May 8, 2019

Former Environment Ministers Issue Unprecedented Rebuke of Bolsonaro

Former Ministers from different administrations – from Itamar Franco to Michel Temer – met in São Paulo to draw up a manifesto in response to the current government’s action.

São Paulo, Brazil – TODAY – For the first time in Brazilian history, former Environment ministers gathered to assess the current context of the country’s environmental policy and create a manifesto to encourage the population and the government itself to pay attention to the decisions that are being made.

Representing more than 20 years of Brazilian environmental policy and diverse political views, José Carlos Carvalho (2002), Edson Duarte (2016-2018, PV), Carlos Minc (2008-2010, PSB), Rubens Ricupero (1993-1994), José Sarney Filho (1999-2002 and 2016, PV), Marina Silva (2003-2008, REDE) and Izabella Teixeira (2010-2016) debated in a room, closed to the press, at the Institute of Advanced Studies of São Paulo State University (IEA-USP), in São Paulo (SP), in their search for a position in common.

In a press conference held after the meeting, they raised several different topics of concern, that are currently being handled by Bolsonaro’s appointed environmental minister Ricardo de Aquino Salles.

Among the issues raised were: the lack of consultation, the release of pesticides, the 16th round of bids for the blocks of the National Oil Agency (ANP), which allows drilling in the National Marine Park of Abrolhos, the increase of slash-and-burn practices, the rights of Indigenous Peoples, the denial of climate change and the disassembly of government agencies covering this topic, the cutback of inspection and environmental preservation activities by the Brazilian Environmental Agency (IBAMA) and the Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMbio) and the lack of contributions and participation by civil society in decision making.

“We see a systematic effort to destroy and deconstruct in all sectors,” stated former minister Rubens Ricupero. “We are united for a reason that is very difficult for all of us – we are seeing the environment become an extension of agriculture,” added José Sarney Filho during the press conference. The full official statement of the former ministers is available on the website of IEA-USP in Portuguese.

For the consultant of native communities of the International Arayara Institute and Brasil, Luiz Afonso Rosário, the meeting shows that Brazil is in a difficult situation.

“As was widely debated, there has been a lack of consultation with the population and with civil society. Without this, there is no positive work. The moral, ethical and intellectual crisis that we are going through is severe,” he said.

“This polarisation of interests generated by the government, mainly between the environment and agribusiness, compromises what is most precious in Brazil – our native territories and our national parks,” explained Rosário.

“We can see that all former ministers emphasised the backwards steps that we are taking in this country, not only because we don’t honor our commitments but also because the government denies climate change. In addition to throttling the country’s economy, we are closing the doors to future generations based on primitive and backward-looking ideas,” added interim director of Brasil, Rubens Born.

“It is important to point out that, from the legal standpoint, the measures taken by the current minister are unconstitutional. They directly violate Art. 170 and Art. 223 of the Brazilian Constitution – offending the public power, the environment and our democracy,” concluded Born.