In this file:


·         Brazil lost almost one-third of its Amazon rain forest in 12 months, agency says

·         Outraged Brazilian farmers in no mood for Carnival samba



Brazil lost almost one-third of its Amazon rain forest in 12 months, agency says


By Carolina Torres,

February 16, 2017


RIO DE JANEIRO –  In the 12-month period that ended last August, Brazil lost almost one-third of its Amazon rain forest.


It is an all-time record that has set off a loud alarm among scientists, environmentalists and everyone who knows that the region is not only the so-called “lung of the planet” but also home to about 2.5 million species of insects, tens of thousands of plants and about 2,000 birds and mammals.


According to the latest report by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), the Brazilian agency that monitors deforestation, between July 2015 and August 2016 roughly 3,100 square miles went up in smoke mostly to give way to farmland and further cement the country’s position as the world’s top exporter of meat products.


Activists and experts agree that such depredation has been in large part possible to the loosening of the nation’s environmental laws and also to budget cuts that have left vast stretches of rain forest to the mercy of greed.


Cristiane Mazetti, a spokesperson for Greenpeace, said the Forest Code of 2012 brought about a sort of “deforestation amnesty” that contributes to the increase of tree felling by creating a sense of impunity.


She said the issue is hardly getting any government attention and that apathy seems to have taken over.


"We live a political moment in Brazil that puts the environmental issue in second, maybe third,” she told Fox News. “Congress spent a year focused on the impeachment vote of former President Dilma Rousseff and now prioritizes the approval of austerity measures. It has not allowed this issue to advance," she said.


In addition, the allocation of funds for surveillance, monitoring and prevention has been dropping dramatically. In 2015 approximately $22 million were devoted to this end; in 2016 only $7 million were used for this purpose, according to the Environmental Ministry data.


To put an end to what some are calling an epidemic, in 2015 Greenpeace introduced a bill in Congress calling for a “zero deforestation policy.” It was filed along with 1.4 million signatures supporting the initiative.


The bill is currently in the consultation phase...





Outraged Brazilian farmers in no mood for Carnival samba


By Paulo Prada, Reuters

Feb 15, 2017


RIO DE JANEIRO | The peace and love that generally abound during Rio de Janeiro's Carnival festivities is threatened this year by a spat pitting a well-known parade troupe against Brazil's powerful farmers because of development in the Amazon rainforest.


Imperatriz Leopoldinense, one of the samba schools that march in the glitzy Carnival processions that kick off Feb. 24, plans to honor the Amazon and its native tribes with a parade featuring six giant floats and 2,800 dancers, musicians and other costumed celebrants.


Part of the show, "The Clamor that Comes from the Forest," highlights the longstanding tension between development and conservation in Brazil, particularly with regard to the world's largest rainforest and the industrial agriculture that at times helps destroy it.


Marching to song lyrics lamenting the "bleeding heart of Brazil" and the "riches that greed destroys," participants will don vests with skulls and crossbones and pretend to spray pesticide. Others will wield toy chainsaws and bundles of felled timber.


To a farming sector that bristles at any suggestion it destroys the environment, the imagery seems anything but celebratory -- especially at a time when agriculture, responsible for as much as a quarter of Brazil's economy, is one of the few vibrant activities in a country hobbled by recession.


"It's gross and unfair," says Marcelo Eduardo Luders, president of Ibrafe, an association of Brazilian bean growers. "Millions of people will see this and could think twice about buying our exports."


Such is the ire that Ronaldo Caiado, a conservative senator from the farm-belt state of Goias, proposed Congress study "the defamation of a sector that should be praised."


Fabelia Oliveira, a television presenter for a program about Brazilian agriculture, suggested that if native tribes wanted to be left alone they should go without modern medicines.


"They'll have to die of malaria and tetanus and during childbirth," she said, outraging indigenous communities and native rights activists.


In an interview, Oliveira said she was being argumentative and meant that modern and ancient cultures must learn to live together. "Rural workers are closer to nature than the urban Carioca types who criticize them," she said, using the local term for residents of Rio.


For Imperatriz, the controversy was a shock, particularly because last year it feted "sertaneja" music and the farm culture from which it sprang.


"This is not about offending farmers," says Cahę Rodrigues, the designer responsible for the parade. "This is about the threats that native people and the environment face."