The Burning of the Amazon Rainforest Is Directly Related to Patriarchy
President Bolsonaro and his government are worsening indigenous genocide with the rampant forest fires
Last week, several videos of the burning of the Amazon forest went viral on social media. The climate change anxiety was palpable as horrifying images of trees burning along a nondescript road were retweeted thousands of times, along with photos of the sky in São Paulo darkened by the smoke from the fire thousands of miles away. Zé Bajaga, chief of the Apurinã people in the south of the Amazon state, reports that 18 indigenous groups in the area are being affected by the fires. “It’s hard to breathe and walk around because of the smoke,” he said. “Many animals have died, and they [the fires] are destroying our land.”
While wildfires are reportedly normal this time of year because of the dry season, there is also a history of farmers starting fires deliberately in efforts to raise cattle illegally. Deforestation in the Amazon is directly linked to farmers, loggers, and land grabbers intimidating and murdering indigenous people to take their land. According to anthropologist Orlando Calheiros, there has been a push to break down indigenous rights in Brazil and a steady growth of illegal deforestation in the Amazon since the mid-2000s, as well as a trend of authorities ignoring warnings and calls for help from indigenous people as their territory is attacked.
We need to be clear about the context in which this is happening: This is the culmination of a history of colonialism and indigenous genocide that continues to happen through global white supremacists’ patriarchal capitalism. President Jair Bolsonaro is a powerful white man who is inciting eco-racism, deforestation, and indigenous genocide through his mercilessly capitalist and racist policies, and his willingness to sell off the Amazon benefits private multinational companies owned by other powerful men.
During Bolsonaro’s presidency, particularly in 2019, the Amazon rainforest has suffered the highest record of forest fires since 2013, with the Brazilian Institute of Space Research reporting a 278% increase in deforestation just in July.