Update: The lungs of the earth & its people choke

Photo courtesy of Rolling Stone

Photo courtesy of Rolling Stone

The Amazon fires have continued into November, lessening in severity than what the world witnessed in August—illegal loggers and cattle ranchers looking to exploit the land still pose a massive threat to the indigeonous peoples of northeastern Brazil.  

According to statistics gathered by Brazil’s satellite agency, Inpe, at least 7,747 sq km of Brazilian Amazon rainforest have already been cleared so far this year. Earlier this year, outrage erupted over Bolsonaro’s call to loosen environmental regulations, cut enforcement budgets, and support further development in the region. Development in the region evidently translates to the deforestation of the most biodiverse environment on the planet. 

“It’s terrifying to me that the lungs of the earth are literally perishing, and since the first fires, there hasn’t been much press on anything,” AP Environmental Science student and Niles North senior Alyssa Kuchii said.

In late August, Bolsonaro ordered a 60-day ban on deforestation, the effect of this being the number of fires in the Amazon dropped by a third between August and September. The pace has slowed through October, and is likely to do so even more in the coming months now that annual rains have started.

Despite the slowdown in rampant destruction, inhabitants continue to feel the effects of Bolsonaro’s call to action.  

Forest Guardians of the Arariboia indigenous area are tasked with the solemn duty of guarding their land; on November 1, Forest Guardian Paulo Paulino Guajajara, age 26, was murdered by 5 illegal loggers ambushing the area in hopes of exploiting the land’s precious resources. Another man, Laércio Guajajara, was left critically injured in the aftermath of the attack. 

Through tears, Paulo’s father Zé Maria Paulino Guajajara spoke at his son’s funeral, “My son fought and died. He died for all of us here, defending this area,”, as reported by the Associated Press. 

While the Brazilian government has apparently deployed federal police to area, the authorities have yet to make any arrests.