Brazil: Trade unions and environmental groups pledge to stand up to Bolsonaro

Morning Star | December 30, 2018

ALMOST 50 US-based groups have warned that Brazil’s far-right president-elect Jair Bolsonaro poses a serious threat to democracy ahead of his inauguration on Tuesday as they pledge to oppose his “hateful rhetoric.”

An open letter signed by trade unions, environmental groups, human rights organisations and academics vowed to support “courageous groups in Brazil” who are standing up for democracy, human rights and the environment.

Signatories — including US union body AFL-CIO — said they would stand up against any “hateful rhetoric, intimidation and acts of violence” committed by the incoming administration as preparations were underway for tomorrow’s ceremony.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who recently dissolved the Knesset and called a snap election for April 9, is set to attend Mr Bolsonaro’s inauguration in Brasilia, becoming the first Israeli leader to visit Brazil.

Discussions between the pair have sought to strengthen ties between the two countries, expanding trade, reaching agreements on defence and security. Mr Bolsonaro pledged shortly after his election to follow the example set by US President Donald Trump and relocate the Brazilian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

While several right-wing leaders are expected to gather for the swearing-in ceremony, the open letter warns of the freedoms that are at risk under Mr Bolsonaro’s presidency.

Particular concern was raised over the threat to the environment, especially the Amazon rainforest. Mr Bolsonaro wants to remove environmental protections that safeguard the forest as he plans to allow agri-business and logging and mining activities to expand in the area.

Amazon Watch director Christian Poirier warned of “a crisis for indigenous rights, the Amazon rainforest and our global climate.”

He said: “An increase in violent attacks against indigenous peoples and social movements has already occurred since the election.”

Mr Bolsonaro warned that “crooks” from the Landless Workers Movement (MST) would be designated terrorists in a menacing final election address.

The statement highlighted that two MST leaders had been killed by masked men in December, warning that “Bolsonaro’s odious and threatening rhetoric is making Brazil — already the world leader in killings of defenders of the land and the environment — a much more dangerous place.”

The groups criticised the far-right former army captain’s “misogynistic, racist and homophobic comments” for creating a climate that encourages violence against minorities.

But it said that those who had spent so long fighting for equality in Brazil were not alone.



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