Fulfilling promises and advice given during the 2018 election campaign and much of his political career, Jair Bolsonaro has significantly expanded the process of dismantling and emptying the environmental and environmental stewardship bodies in his first two years in office agrarian issues.
As a result, widespread paralysis, internal clashes, setbacks, a minister under constant pressure to be replaced – Ricardo Salles from the environment – and a collection of negative numbers that, among other things, led to a sharp deterioration in the country’s image abroad.
In addition to the precarious infrastructure and reduced funding for the main Ibama inspection body (Brazilian Institute for Environment and Renewable Natural Resources), deforestation and fires in the country have made a leap forward.
It is estimated that between August 1, 2019 and July 31, 2020, more than 11,000 km2 of forest in the legal Amazon was destroyed. This corresponds to an increase of 9.5% compared to the previous period and the largest area since 2008 (due to the rainy and dry periods, deforestation is always measured in the 12 months of August from one year to July of the following year.
The data comes from the Prodes system of Inpe (National Institute for Space Research), a body that Bolsonaro and Salles tried to discredit when management’s first negative environmental results were released in 2019.
According to the Queimadas project, also from Inpe, the country ended 2019 with 318,000 km² of vegetation consumed by fire in the six biomes, an 86% increase over the previous one. In 2020, the Pantanal hit a historic record of 22,000 fires, 13 times more than in 2018. The outbreaks in the legal Amazon are also the largest since 2010.
Ibama, one of Bolsonaro’s preferred targets, saw funding cut (4%) for 2021, with a third of the budget subject to congressional approval.
It also has an increasing impact on its oversight function. The use of the most effective tool to curb deforestation, the so-called embargo conditions, decreased by 60% in the first six months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, which had already decreased compared to 2018.
“Indeed, they put [no comando do Meio Ambiente] an ideal person to encourage degradation, “says Elizabeth Eriko Uema, executive secretary of Ascema (National Association of Environmental Servers), who announced in September the poll” Chronology of a Disaster: Actions by the Bolsonaro Government to Breakdown Policy “published in Environment Brazil “.
“He [Salles] it removed the autonomy and the ability to act concretely by environmental authorities. In fact, we evaluate the project of destruction, intervention in the organs, institutional harassment, bureaucratic difficulties, “says Elizabeth.
The Federal Ministry has already made five attempts to remove Salles from office, but the rapporteur for the applications to the Federal Court of the 1st Region, Ney Bello, declined the applications. In July, a public civil lawsuit filed by 12 prosecutors accused Salles of “deliberately disrupting environmental structures” through normative, budgetary, inspection and transparency measures.
One of the elements mentioned was the ministerial meeting at which Salles spoke about using the awareness of the corovavirus pandemic to overtake livestock in easing environmental standards and other areas regulated by decrees, ordinances and resolutions – without the consent of the Congress is required. .
A Folha poll in collaboration with the Talanoa Institute shows that the government accelerated the publication of environmental laws in March and May of this year – in the Official Journal there were 195 laws against 16 in the same period of 2019.
“It is a series of several very significant negative outcomes,” says Suely Araújo, Senior Public Policy Specialist at the Climate Observatory, who chaired Ibama under Michel Temer (2016-2018).
She cites the increase in deforestation, fires, greenhouse gases and the dismantling of inspection posts as some of the most worrying data. It also highlights the depletion of Conama (National Council for the Environment), whose composition has been cut by around 80% at the expense of NGOs and states, placing the body under government control.
She points out that the damage was greater not only because of opposition from Congress and the judiciary, in particular the Federal Supreme Court, which was activated several times by civil society organizations together with opposition parties.
In one of the latest court decisions, for example, Minister Rosa Weber of the STF issued an injunction overturning Salles’ decision that allowed the exploitation of mangroves and sandbars in the country. The campaign was presented by the sustainability network
Alessandra Cardoso, Political Advisor to Inesc (Institute for Socio-Economic Studies) affirmed: “Salles and the government managed to spend a lot of oxen on changing the infralegal measures, but I think resistance in its various forms and cases was important, to reduce the size of the mining. “
According to her, “in two years the government managed to lose control of deforestation, encourage land grabbing, ruin its credibility with the international community, and create legal uncertainty about its ability to comply with international environmental and climate laws and treaties.”
The picture is repeated on the indigenous question and agricultural reform. No indigenous areas were identified, declared (allowed for physical delimitation) or approved in 2019 and 2020. Under the Michel Temer government, which until then had the worst grade, there were three declared and one approved country.
“For me there is no longer any demarcation of the indigenous land,” said the already-elected president at the end of 2018.
In 2020, the federal prosecutor’s office sent a statement to Congress calling for the agency’s funds to be recovered.
Inesc points out that the slight nominal increase in the Funai budget in 2021 (R $ 649 million) does not remedy the losses of the last few years (in 2013 the budget was R $ 870 million). In addition, the percentage of the budget that depends on Congress approving additional credit increased from 20% to 52%, increasing the likelihood that it will not go ahead.
“We have to keep in mind that Funai has been going through a budget constraint for a long time, which is not a specific job of the Bolsonaro government, but that if Bolsonaro accepts this constraint, it is obviously a much more accentuated process of declared war.” says Leila Saraiva, Inesc’s political advisor.
She points to the high number of military and police officers in command posts – 22 of the 39 regional coordinators – who are unrelated to indigenous politics and many have no experience in public administration, and the lack of practical relationship between Funai and the Ministry of Health . Justice to which the body is formally bound.
After taking over Bolsonaro, he attempted to transfer Funai to the agriculture and later women’s, family and human rights portfolio led by Evangelical pastor Damares Alves, but Congress banned the move.
In the agrarian reform, Incra (National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform) only approved 5,409 families of old regularization processes, the worst performance of a government since at least Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-2002). Hundreds of processes have been paralyzed since 2019, and the proposed 2021 budget reduces the budget for some of the major landless and settlement improvement measures to practically zero.
For the recognition and compensation of Quilombola areas, the budget, which amounted to R $ 48 million in 2013, was reduced to R $ 330,000 in 2021.
“2016 with the coup [impeachment de Dilma Rousseff]There was total paralysis. With the arrival of Bolsonaro there was a total return, a real dismantling of the national agrarian reform program, “says Alexandre Conceição of the national coordination of the MST (Movement of Landless Agricultural Workers).
Folha searched and sent questions to the Planalto Palace, the Ministry of the Environment, Ibama, Incra, ICMBio and Funai.
Only Funai answered. The agency said the current administration is not against demarcation, but against “irregularities in these processes practiced by previous administrations” and that it has already spent R $ 36 million on the upcoming regularization of already demarcated areas.
He says there is still a need to take into account field restrictions during the pandemic and that the portion of the budget that needs to be approved by Congress is similar to the other organs of federal administration.