Brazil's Burning Season: The Facts About Amazon Fires

Brazil's Burning Season: The Facts About Amazon Fires

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In August of 2019, images of the Amazon rainforest on fire shocked the global consciousness. The annual "burning season" – the period when recently deforested areas are burned to clear the area for agribusiness – was not new. However, the growing global understanding of the role of the rainforest in combating climate change collided with the Bolsonaro regime's assault on the Amazon and dramatic images circulating on social media. Brazilian cities were darkened by thick clouds of smoke from the fires, catalyzing Brazilian and international outrage.

The situation highlighted the threats faced by Indigenous, Quilombola (descendants of Afro-Brazilian slaves who escaped slavery before its abolition in Brazil,) and rural communities across the vast Brazilian Amazon. Their territories are under growing pressure from an extractive economy that prioritizes profits over people. The destructive industries are both illicit (illegal logging, mining, and drug cultivation) and government (agribusiness, mining projects like Belo Sun, and other infrastructure like dams, roads, and railways). Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has made clear his disdain for the legal recognition of Indigenous territories and worked to legalize previously illegal activities in them.

The Amazon is on fire once again this year, and for most this is undebatable. Nasa, Inpe, and MAAP all publish monthly reports outlining the deforestation and subsequent fires destroying the Amazon. Yet, the Bolsonaro administration has launched a public relations offensive, attempting to assuage international criticisms. They are propagating a series of lies, which require the following fact-checking.

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