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Will Lula's policies save the Amazon rainforest?

By Rajeev Tyagi
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lula's policies to save amazon forests

Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva is Brazil’s president-elect i.e. he will become the next president of Brazil. But, why does someone sitting in India care about the presidential elections in another South American country? Maybe, you should. 

Some beautiful beaches, remember Dhoom 2?, exquisite carnivals, ultra-talented Footballers, & football culture, and obviously, the Amazon Rainforest, are a few things we associate with Brazil. Through this article, we will talk about the last one: Amazon Rainforest.

How important are Amazon Rainforest?

With just 1% earth’s surface, the rainforest is home to more than 10% of the species on earth. Some of them are yet to be discovered. It is not these species, it is also about the food, and carbon storage capacity of the forest. The forest store around 76 billion tonnes of carbon. This rainforest stores an unprecedented amount of carbon, which if these forests are destroyed would be released directly into the atmosphere.

In addition, they release 20 billion tonnes of water into the atmosphere per day, ensuring the global and regional water cycle.

A few decades back, these photos would've been dark green | Source: Wikicommons

Indigenous climate activist Txai Suruí says the rapid deforestation of the rainforest puts the indigenous communities at the forefront of the impact.

Read more: Learn about Amazon Rainforest

Who was/is Jair Bolsonaro?


Jair Bolsonaro is a far-right political leader, and a retired military officer. His policies uphold traditional family values and culture. While he dismissed homosexuality as a disease and promoted misogynist ideas, his policies exploited the Amazon rainforest for the economic benefit of the country. 

There is a context to all that exploitation. Primarily, the corruption in Brazil’s political system for which even Lula went to jail. The country was going through a bad recession and economic stagnation. Amidst this backdrop, we have the rise of Jair Bolsonaro. The quickest way to get the country back on track for economic growth is to utilise the important resource, the rainforest.

Overall, 20% of the Amazon rainforest has been "transformed" (deforested) and another 6% has been "highly degraded", causing Amazon Watch to warn that the Amazonia is in the midst of a tipping point crisis

Who is Lula?

Offical portrait, 2007| Courtesy: WikiCommons

Lula is Brazil’s far-left politician, whose policies also garner centre-left voters. Through his policies, Lula once was the world’s most popular politician. To the extent, that his approval ratings were more than 85%. 

Lula finally won the presidential elections in 2003, before losing three times. He is part of the workers' party, and stayed in power till 2010. Lula's rise of power is the story of Brazil's union, and workers' movement. His protests, and movements gave rise to some significant changes in the Brazil's social fabric. But, he made a great difference while he was the president.

His several reforms brought family out of poverty, after some very turbulent years in Brazil economy. Social programs like Bolsa Família and Fome Zero, helped Brazil to eradicate hunger, and improve social indicators.

In 2017, Lula was convicted, and eventually spent over 500 days in Jail.

Conclusion, or how did Lula win the elections?

Cleared land in the Amazon Jungle, Brazil | Courtesy: Flickr

There are several reasons. One of them being, how badly the administration handled the Coronavirus pandemic. Brazil was one of the worst affected countries in the world, with more than 3 crores of reported cases. There were protests against Bolsonaro’s authoritative regime, and curbs on freedom of speech. Bolsonaro was infamously part of the rise of the majoritarian leader across the world. His government did crackdowns and pushed for dictatorial tendencies. They even put opposition leaders in jail. 

Lula may have won the elections, but it was a very small-narrow margin. According to Reuters, he just received 50.9% of the votes. Believe it or not, this win will make all the difference in our fight against climate change.

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