It's time the world realize that the Amazon has an owner and that that owner is Brazil. The message is coming from Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. who once again stressed that the Brazilian people own the Amazon, or at least the 60% Brazilian share of it and nobody else.
fThe Brazilian leader recognized that Brazil needs to take care of the forest and prevent deforestation, but also asked foreign countries to butt out and keep their suggestions on the Amazon subject to themselves:
"It is quite amusing that countries that are responsible for 70% of the planet's pollution now keep eyeing the Amazon as if it were only ours the responsibility to do what they haven't done all these past years. The world needs to know that Brazilian Amazon has an owner. And the owner is the Brazilian people, the Indians, the rubber tappers, the fishermen,Â but also all of us who are aware that we need to reduce deforestation and burning."
Lula was participating at the 20th National Forum, in Rio de Janeiro, which will last the whole week. Organized by Brazilian economist and former Planning minister during the military dictatorship, João Paulo dos Reis Velloso, the event's theme is "Brazil, a New World in the Tropics: 200 years of economic independence and 20 years of national forum (under the sign of uncertainty)."
The presidential talk was in part an answer to the recent article from the New York Times "Whose Rain Forest Is This Anyway?"
The Times piece says in part: "Now, with the world focusing on the promises of biodiversity and the perils of global warming, a chorus of international leaders have ever more openly declared the Amazon part of a patrimony far larger than that of the nations that share its territory. "Contrary to what Brazilians think, the Amazon is not their property, it belongs to all of us," Al Gore, then a senator, said in 1989."
The Brazilian leader reminded that Brazil has been doing its part of caring for the world. Lula stressed, however, that it is necessary to develop the Amazon region.Â There are almost 25 million inhabitants in the area, he told his audience. These people, he said,Â also want to access all the amenities the rest of the country has.
"Why these people have to be segregated? This is a debate that I think will be an important one in the next two decades."
According to Lula, the development of biofuel by Brazil shows that Brazilians are doing their part to lessen the world's pollution level. He also suggested that the Kyoto protocol has been a failure, putting the blame at the feet of the United States:
"He who had to take steps to comply with the protocol hasn't even signed it. We were the ones who sustained it. We are the ones, who thanks to the use of ethanol, have reduced the emission of tons of carbon dioxide."
Lula also blamed the US and the European Union for stimulating world inflation and raising food prices. According to him, eating has become more and more expensive because America and European countries continue pushing agricultural subsidies.
"It's up to the rulers, mainly those from rich countries, to give a chance to the global free flow of grains, proteins and biofuels. The protectionist barrier favoring the wealthy nations' producers is in reality, an unacceptable wall, an indifference wall, that the developed nations build to perpetuate the misery of poor developing nations."
For Lula, fossil fuel contributes to global inflation and this could be solved through the adoption of ethanol and biodiesel. "It is not right to contend that biofuels contribute to the food crisis", said Lula, criticizing what he sees as the lobby of rich countries against Brazil's ethanol.
Lula also mentioned that the US economic crisis might end affecting Brazil but reminded that Brazil has become a much more resilient country recently and more prepared to endure international crises.
Meanwhile, the daily O Globo from Rio de Janeiro reveals that a private report by the Abin, Brazilian Intelligence Agency found out that Johan Eliasch, a Swede businessman who works as a consultant for British prime minister Gordon Brown, estimated that the whole Amazon Forest can be bought for about US$ 50 billion.
Apparently, Eliasch's purpose is to encourage British businessmen to buy real estate in the area. Brazilian authorities have been investigating Eliasch's participation in the acquisition of 160,000 hectares of land in the states of Amazonas and Mato Grosso.
Eliasch is head of the NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) Cool Earth, which is in the Brazilian government's black list as suspect of doing monkey business in the Amazon.
Carlos Minc, Brazil's new Environment minister, who assumes his post this Tuesday, May 27, seems worried with the news: "I am shocked and I am going to order an investigation into this story as soon as I take office."