The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

New Forest Code—A Permit to Destroy the Environment

Jun 18, 2012

On May 25th, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff supported the new Brazilian forest code passed by the legislature. Trampling on her electoral promise to oppose any amnesty for those who destroy the forests, this supposed left-wing president instead gave the big landowners a green light to destroy them.

Deforestation has increased in recent years, including by 27% last year alone. Big owners, often financial companies, cleared millions of acres in the two states of Amazonia. The cleared land has been used for raising cattle and the intensive growth of soy beans, corn and sugar cane, sectors in which Brazil is one of the world’s main producers. Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva had already legalized the illegal occupations of public land up to 3,700 acres and gave public loans to these thieves.

Agribusiness waged an all-out PR campaign against any restrictions. It said the country’s prosperity and food for the poorest were at stake. It said that reducing the number of plantations would lead to a general increase in food prices.

This lobby, which lambasts what it calls the “Shiite” ecologists, foreign non-governmental organizations and the “dictatorship of the environment,” has the support of more than 300 of the 513 members of parliament, from the right but also from the left. Under the pretext of growth and development, they support the big owners who destroy forests, expel Indians and reduce their workers to semi-slavery.

After the final ratification by the parliament, any outstanding fines for deforestation before July 2008 will be cancelled. Construction of farms in zones cleared before this date are now authorized. The legal reserve is reduced in states and towns where protected zones are important, that is, in Amazonia. And most importantly, those who destroy forests no longer have to reconstitute them.

In the end, 266,000 square miles of vegetation are threatened: 10% of Amazonia and 35% of what remains of the virgin forest bordering the Atlantic. Pollution due to burning the forest, which makes Brazil the world’s fourth highest emitter of CO2, is going to continue with renewed vigor. Erosion is going to lead in places to floods and mudslides from hills. All of these things threaten the people of Brazil. Never mind: the meat and soy bean corporations will be able to increase their exports and profits.