Por Mora Laiño.About 350 indigenous communities form their way of life around the forests that make up the biome of the Amazon. Today, a portion of that region is in flames.
Much has been said about the responsibilities of an alarming phenomenon. The uncontrolled expansion of the agricultural frontier, monoculture, lobbyist logic upheld by an agroextractivist model of production – which takes out until there is nothing left- and the domination of territories and cultures as the only possible model of development. Decades of dismantling, intensified during the government of President Jair Bolsonaro, to favor the agro-commercial exploitation of the area, denying the rights of indigenous communities over previously inhabited territories in an integrated fashion and in harmony with the environment.
Those flames show us a colonization process that is cultural, territorial and part of the productive system; a transculturation scheme that has destroyed ancestral knowledge and ways to inhabit and interact with nature, drastically changing the perception of the landscape and its dynamics.
Also burning is the imposition of logics of a “bad development”, which insists that there is only one possible, modernizing way, based on the exploitation of the territories and their resources, forcing a continuous tension between economic development or environmental sustainability. A turning point that puts us in an uncomfortable place.
The burning of the Amazon is mainly a political problem about an unequal distribution of costs and benefits that leads us to reflect upon the need to strengthen and integrate regional governance on common ecosystems.
When the phenomenon of climate change occupies a central place in agendas and urgent investments for preservation are needed, sovereignty is blurred for geopolitics to step in. The powers of the world -whose basic needs have already been satisfied from exploitation of nature without measuring its impact and capacity to recover – demand in moralizing speeches at environmental summits that "the lungs of the planet" need to be taken care of. On the other hand, for those who maintain this same, now-disputed approach, this means to give up economic profits even if they arise out of the exploitation of their own resources, for the ultimate benefit of foreign consumption in distant countries.
Fires in the Amazon express the crisis of a system whose logics have become predatory, demanding radical changes in models of production and consumption, and a reconfiguration of the ways of understanding “development”, no longer split from nature and communities.
What are our roles and what can we do for this common cause? To inform ourselves to foster debate; in times of post-truth and false or misleading content going viral, to look for reliable sources and innovative and analytical points of view is a complete exercise that demands a certain commitment before considering information valid and repeating it. Civil society organizations that are involved in this matter, can be good allies both for informing us and to participate in collective actions. The election of our political representatives, in light of these elections, is an opportunity to analyze how the preservation of the environment appears – or not – in their political platforms and to demand changes in a system that is burning from exhaustion.
But is it possible to think of development models that would not lead to an irreversible degradation of the environment with unequal consequences on communities?
Before outlining any possible response, it is necessary to understand the tensions, resistances, and conflicts of interest that bring along a complex challenge that exceeds solutions of the technological type or based on individual changes in behavior, such as limiting meat consumption or use of plastics, whose contribution is necessary but limited if the entire model of economic organization is not reconfigured.
The fires in the Amazon is a guiding sign for us to gather and think collectively about how these significant issues are connected; what type of people we would like to be, how we interact with nature, and how we understand the idea of progress.