“Ashes to ashes:” Firefighters tackle fires in devastated Amazon
Robie de Guzman • August 26, 2019 • 539
Tree trunk ashes are all that remain in a barren portion of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil’s state of Rondonia. A dead bird lies next to a lifeless tree, a sombre scene which has angered the international community as a record number of fires in the Amazon rainforest intensified an unfolding environmental crisis.
Amid a global chorus of concern and condemnation, Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro pledged in an address to the nation to mobilize the army to help combat the blazes, while his administration launched a diplomatic charm offensive to try to mend bridges overseas.
Forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon, which accounts for more than half of the world’s largest rainforest, have surged in number by 83% this year, according to government data, destroying vast swathes of a vital bulwark against global climate change.
Environmentalists have warned that his controversial plans for more agriculture and mining in the region will speed up deforestation.
The Brazilian space agency INPE has registered 72,843 fires this year, the highest number since records began in 2013. More than 9,500 have been spotted by satellites over the past week.
Although fires are a regular and natural occurrence during the dry season at this time of year, environmentalists blamed the jump on farmers clearing land for pasture.
Farmers may have had at least tacit encouragement from the firebrand right-wing president, who took power in January.
Bolsonaro has repeatedly said he believes Brazil should open up the Amazon to business interests, allowing mining, agricultural and logging companies to exploit its natural resources. (Reuters)
States in Brazil have stepped up measures to contain the spread of coronavirus in Latin America’s biggest economy, despite warnings from President Jair Bolsonaro of pandemic fears throwing the economy off track.
A poll showed Bolsonaro losing the battle of public opinion as he attacks state governors for shutting down stores to slow the spread of the virus, which has tripled in four days to 1,891 confirmed cases, according to the Health Ministry. Deaths rose to 34 from 25 a day earlier.
In Sao Paulo, the Pacaembu stadium is being transformed to become a field hospital to treat coronavirus cases.
Several Brazilian states have begun closing shopping malls and schools, and banning public meetings, soccer matches and religious assemblies. Sao Paulo, the country’s biggest city, is slated to begin a lockdown on Tuesday (March 24).
In the tourist hotspot of Rio de Janeiro, officials in protective suits disinfected public areas. In the capital Brasilia, soldiers have been deployed to disinfect public spaces in a drive against coronavirus. (Reuters)
(Production: Pablo Garcia, Sergio Queiroz, Douglas Engle, Paul Vieira)
Daniela Gasparin was on a bus in the Brazilian city of Boituva early one morning in 2018 when her ex-boyfriend boarded the vehicle and attacked her with a knife.
Gasparin, 38, lost her hand in the attack. She suffered 11 cuts and fractured her cranium in the attack.
Her ex-boyfriend was arrested and jailed, but the injuries left her unable to continue her work as a school bus monitor and she moved back in with her mother. She said she still lives in fear of her former partner, who regularly writes and calls, declaring his love and asking for forgiveness.
Gasparin said she was close to death when she arrived in hospital, and thanks God for her survival.
As bad as the attack was, Gasparin knows it could have been worse: a growing number of Brazilian women are dying at the hands of men.
Brazil, where more people are murdered each year than in any other country, recorded 1,310 femicides in 2019, up 7% compared with 2018, according to data compiled by the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper.
Femicide, defined as a homicide where a history of domestic violence or discrimination against women can be proven, affects all of Brazil.
The poor, violent city of Duque de Caxias has registered the highest number of cases in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
Fernanda Fernandes, a senior police officer in charge of investigating violence against women in Duque de Caxias, said such crimes stem from “a macho and patriarchal society.” Family histories also play a role.
Men usually face few repercussions for aggressions toward women, Fernandes added. Crimes go unreported, and can be hard to prove. “When the aggressor is free, the victim is the one who is stuck,” Fernandes said.
Gasparin survived her knife attack but still lives in fear. (REUTERS CONNECT)
(Production: Pilar Olivares, Sergio Queiroz, Leandra Camera, Paul Vieira)
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