In Brazil, Disaster is No Longer Impending
Disaster is here. And those for whom disaster was impending are no longer here.
Writing this compilation of Brazilian breaking news breaks my heart, but I’ve been told it’s important to share, so I’ll try to hold back my tears. Show must go on, right? In fact, Freddie Mercury is blasting on the street radio the moment I write this, which is for real, non-sarcastically, super inspiring. [This is a trigger warning, folks].
Quelly da Silva, a trans woman was not only killed, but had her heart removed from her body. The criminal called her a demon, placed the picture of a saint over her body, and kept her heart wrapped under his closet. The barbaric crime isn’t the only one of its kind, assaults against queers are reported constantly, and those with the resources are leaving the country in order to survive. Jean Willis, one of the first openly gay members of parliament, decided to leave the country and focus on his academic career right after being elected for a second time. Threats were not only directed at him, but also at his family members, and even I have family members that left with their partners because of fear and exhaustion.
Meanwhile, conservatives shamelessly spout queerphobic thoughts on the news. Damares Alves, Brazil’s new christian Women, Children, and Human rights minister, is against abortion, against the “gender ideology” (queerness), and wants to preserve the symbolic tradition of boys wearing blue and girls wearing pink. This queerphobic rhetoric kills, and is fascist. Period.
It’s not only queerphobic. It’s colonial, white supremacist, and an assault against the planet (and all living things on it). The same minister that attacks queers, attacks indigenous peoples and adopts a colonial, christian attitude towards our environment and our people. Meaning, to christianise through missionary work, and to exploit the land, cared for and nurtured by Natives, for the benefit of the crown (now capital).
Sonia Guajajara, the first Indigenous woman to run for vice-presidency, spoke yesterday on the unspeakably horrific crime committed in Brumadinho:
“We see this happening again, now more severe than before, and we need the courage to confront the destructive power of this model of development, because it is unsustainable.”
What has happened in Brumadinho, Brazil?
A catastrophe of unimaginable proportions that will leave social and environmental scars for generations; two, possibly three dams burst, leaking 12 million cubic meters of mud. 65 people are confirmed dead, almost 300 are missing.
Are you ready? One of the largest mining companies in the world is responsible. I kid you not- in their “About us” page, they announce proudly they “passionately work to turn natural resources into wealth”. They are the world’s number one steel miners- if this isn’t the epitome of colonialism, capitalism, and industrial “development”, I don’t know what is.
They add insult to injury when right below they add cute little green stickers saying they care about sustainability and the environment. The number “5 and a half billion US Dollars in investments” appears out of context in green, implying they have invested this in something they consider sustainable. Not the case, it’s simply their profits for 2017, of which they claim to put towards eradicating poverty and promoting peace. They say they invested 500 million US Dollars on environmental protection, but literally 4 seconds later they say 100% of their steel mining dams are verified for safety… Need I say more? Can we just sit here craughing from now on?
No, I’m not finished.
Nature, Land, and People
Governmentally speaking, the separation of social and environmental ministries means the dismantling of the first, and the farce of the latter. Demarcation of Indigenous land is under the Agriculture ministry. The ministry of environment is run by a right wing lawyer that dedicates his career to protecting private property; he doesn’t want to be asked about Indigenous peoples because that’s not his jurisdiction, and he knows nothing about it. The institute responsible for Indigenous communities is under the ministry of Justice and Public Security. What this means is that the protection of a community is divorced from the land, and institutionally unrelated to the environment. Therefore, the core of Indigenous identity, the relationship they have with Nature and the land, is institutionally impossible. They are not given an opportunity to exist unless they are integrated into “regular” society, which is essentially ceasing to exist. Again, fascist, period.
We are yet to see how these new institutional structures will affect us, but the core structure is very much still the same as it was 500 years ago. This is why the powerful social media movement MUCB (Women United Against Bolsonaro), that reached 3 million followers and created the #EleNão campaign, are now having a huge internal debate over a change of name. A movement started by an anarchist is now gravitating towards becoming a political party… For that, they cannot have the name of an individual on the initials. In an effort to keep the acronym, they changed the meaning to “Women United With Brazil”. Most members left, accused it of having been infiltrated, and simply do not relate to the new name and the new direction at all.
Can you blame them? Brazil is not united with us, how can we unite ourselves with it? Government authorities have completely lost these women’s respect. Perhaps this can evolve into a loss of respect for the Nation as a whole, or to the concept of a Sate altogether. It’s too painfully clear now how none of it exists for our best interest. How much worse do things have to get before we stop thinking it will be in Government we will find the solution?
It’s the hearts of all of us that are being ripped out, day after day, in this system that feeds off our misery. I was wrong when I said in the beginning of this article that there are comrades who are no longer here. Whichever way they are taken or chose to leave, they are present. Quelly is present. Jean is present. Everyone missing in Brumadinho is present. Every Indigenous resistance fighter is present. Every single one we’ve lost to queerphobia and to racist policies: Present.
- In english they said prosperity, but in Portuguese the word they used was riqueza- not prosperidade.
In the first paragraph of the section “Nature, land, and people” it originally said “public property”, and later it was changed to “private property”. Once he became minister, the line between the two became more obscure than ever.
Writer, editor, political theorist. (Website)