The Amazon is on fire, no shit...
“Literal slash-and-burn techniques used to make cattle ranches, with the help of soy-bean farms, were responsible for the obliteration of 13% of the largest rain forest in the world, just like that, up in smoke. All of that for beef? It has got to make you wanna cry, or curse, or both."
The new Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply is not an enemy of the system. Tereza Cristina represents the Reign of the current power structures. As member of a political dynasty, where her grandfather and great-grandfather held public office for a total period equivalent to a third of the twentieth century, we can honestly say that she “deserved" her current position. Such a legacy of political representatives in her family explains her ability to evade controversial issues and emanate impartiality, which, before Bolsonaro, were essential qualities for any ambitious politician. This makes it possible for catastrophic decisions to go unnoticed without major scandals or resistance.
Nothing the Minister says causes extreme shock or revolt. Tereza was once a representative of the Brazilian Socialist Party without ever being a socialist. She can support the President and have no intention of interfering with indigenous rights to land demarcation. She can make pesticide regulation more flexible while prioritising the health and well-being of small farmers. She claims to combat corruption while refusing to report corruption. The Minister says she will always respect the laws, and at the same time she wants to change them when it's ‘pertinent.' She even claims to combat deforestation by granting more freedoms to cattle breeders.
It's frustrating and frightening to hear this individual speak, because there are no arguments for counteracting their paradoxical, intangible positions, like a liquid slipping through our fingers. All that remains is to wait and see the result of the disaster.
The scariest thing about waiting is that, before becoming Minister, Tereza Cristina was the queenping of an industry responsible for 80% of deforestation in the Amazon-- livestock. Fattening cattle, slaughtering, selling abroad, and setting fire to the forest to make pasture was, and remains, her business. Even with all the valid criticism of “conscious consumption,” a massive boycott of the meat industry would send a loud and clear message to anyone who thinks “the market speaks for itself.” The market saying “enough of this devastating industry!” would be one of our few opportunities to do more than just wait and see. Unfortunately, we are very far from orchestrating such a move, and we already know that the market does not operate democratically.
The Industry is Tereza's specialty. Maximising production and negotiating with buyers is the priority. Cancer, deforestation and indigenous peoples are not the issue. According to her, these are problems that strengthening the liberal economy will solve. We have already seen the spillage of contradictory statements, and this is just one of them. We know very well that liberalism is the disease... not the cure.
None of this is new, deforestation by the livestock industry dates back to the 1960s. Still, it's good to learn from today's tragedy. More effective than voting is to not support the industries responsible. If you find it financially inaccessible to stop eating meat and cheese, rethink the costs-- there are healthier, more sustainable and more affordable things you can eat.
Mirna is G&R’s site editor and communications manager. She currently lives in Rio de Janeiro state, and works as a freelance journalist locally and internationally.