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Project October 23, 2020

The Political Arc of Deforestation

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In January 2020, The Agribusiness Watch (De Olho nos Ruralistas) released its major journalistic endeavour: a systematization of Ibama’s database of environmental fines imposed in the past 25 years. From the 284,235 infractions we found hundreds of politicians, some of whom were portrayed in 2016 in a series of articles on the candidates linked to agribusiness and logging or prosecuted for environmental crimes who were running for mayoral positions in the Amazon region. Some of those candidates were elected and are running for a second term. Others weren’t elected and are seeking office in new elections in 2020.

The Political Arc of Deforestation combines the two perspectives to track the political fingerprints behind the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. What was the behavior of those mayors during the Covid-19 pandemic? Did they comply with president Jair Bolsonaro’s vision towards Indigenous peoples and the environment? How are they acting to cope with wildfires in their regions? The project will investigate who the politicians are that are profiting from deforestation at the local level and their connections with agribusiness associations and their lobby groups. Furthermore, The Political Arc of Deforestation will question how politicians acquired their lands: was it via normal means, or are these rural properties somehow linked to the expulsion of Indigenous peoples, Quilombolas and other traditional communities?