Bolsonaro lies to the UN

False claims regarding forest fires and measures to fight the pandemic (Press Release)

In the course of the 75th General Assembly of the United Nations, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) criticized the lies spread by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. In his speech, the extreme right-wing president accused the country's indigenous peoples of causing the fires in the Amazon and Pantanal. Further, he claimed that his government had introduced a "zero tolerance" policy towards environmental crimes and that it was doing everything in its power to fight the corona crisis.

"These statements are obviously false. NASA data shows that more than 54 percent of the forest fires in the Amazon were caused by deforestation," stated Juliana Miyazaki, STP expert on indigenous peoples. "In the Pantanal, the federal police are investigating against large landowners who most probably tried to clear forest areas for cattle pastures and soybean cultivation. According to the Amazonian Environmental Research Institute IPAM, only 7 percent of the fires last year started on indigenous land. However, according to the Brazilian space agency Inpe, 52 percent of the fires started on land that was subsequently used for agriculture by large and medium-sized enterprises. Contrary to Bolsonaro's claims, the penalties for environmental crimes are declining: In the Pantanal alone, they fell by 48 percent compared to last year. "Bolsonaro's claim that the rainforest cannot burn because it is wet is outright ridiculous – the forest fires are obviously there," Miyazaki emphasized. "Climate change and deforestation have made the forests dryer. Thus, they burn more easily and more violently than in the past.

The umbrella organization of the indigenous peoples of Brazil (APIB) had accused Bolsonaro of "using lies as a government policy" – warning against attempts to sell a false image of Brazil. Bolsonaro is trying to evade responsibility for the problems in fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Indigenous peoples are especially affected. There have already been 709 infections in the Yanomami area alone. A total of 33,226 infections have been detected among 158 indigenous communities, and 826 indigenous people have died. "At the same time, he claims that he provided consistent funding – and that the individual states, the judiciary, and the media were responsible for the crisis. He always played down the virus and the pandemic, preventing the states from doing anything about it," Miyazaki criticized.

The APIB has asked the Brazilian Supreme Court for a statement on the president's false allegations. In a letter to the UN, the organization also criticized attempts to criminalize its protest. The letter mentions "intimidating accusations" and worry about the safety of their leaders. Sonia Guajajara, coordinator of the APIB, has repeatedly become a target of personal attacks.