Amazon Watch and 342Amazonía

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Ada Recinos at [email protected] or +1.510.473.7542 (PDT)
Camila Rossi at [email protected] or +55.11.98152.8476 (BRT)
John Quigley at [email protected] or +1.310.927.3013
Danilo Rodrigues at [email protected] or +55 21 97168-2727

Washington, D.C. – Leonardo DiCaprio, Katy Perry, Uzo Aduba, Jane Fonda, Mark Ruffalo, Rosario Dawson, Alyssa Milano, Orlando Bloom, Joaquin Phoenix, Sigourney Weaver, Misha Collins, Sônia Braga, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Alice Braga, Wagner Moura, and Fernando Meirelles are among a growing list of international artists supporting demands from Brazil and the U.S. calling on Biden to choose: the Amazon rainforest or Bolsonaro. Indigenous leaders from the Amazon have reached out to U.S. and Brazilian organizations, policymakers, and artists to help protect the rainforest during this critical time. News outlets recently reported that President Biden’s administration, including Climate Envoy John Kerry, were holding secret meetings with Bolsonaro’s government about the rainforest in the lead-up to the Earth Day Leader’s Climate Summit at the White House.

In the sign-on letter addressing President Biden, artists from the U.S. and Brazil are sharing their commitment to advocate for the protection of the Amazon rainforest and climate in solidarity with Indigenous peoples. They are asking Biden to not make any deals with Brazilian President Bolsonaro, who has committed human rights abuses against the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon and continued to destroy the rainforest for profit. In the letter, artists draw attention to Bolsonaro’s complicity in the Amazon’s destruction by continuing to ignore land theft, illegal logging, and allowing fires to burn millions of acres of the rainforest and public lands.

The letter was supported by Amazon Watch, Artists for Amazonia, We Stand United, and 342 Amazonia. The letter states, “Protecting the Amazon rainforest is essential for global solutions to address climate change. Yet the integrity of this critical ecosystem is nearing a tipping point due to increasing threats to the rainforest and its Indigenous guardians by the Bolsonaro Administration, including deforestation, fires, and attacks on human rights.”

Mark Ruffalo from We Stand United said, “It is imperative that the Biden Administration listen to the voices of the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon Rainforest and Brazilian civil society and not make any deal with President Bolsonaro, who many describe as the ‘Trump of the Tropics’. Bolsonaro has proven that he has no desire to protect the Amazon. He has fought to destroy it and the Indigenous communities who are its caretakers. Artists are joining together from the US, Brazil, and abroad to amplify the voices of our Indigenous sisters and brothers to say to President Biden: no deals with Bolsonaro!”

It goes on to state the impacts of Bolsonaro’s government on the rainforest and its people, “Indigenous lands, which are the best protected across the Amazon, have been invaded, logged, and burned with impunity. The rights of Indigenous peoples, who are the guardians of the forest, have been violated by Bolsonaro and his administration.”

As Rosario Dawson stated during the Amazon Climate Forum, “In Brazil, the president has publicly endorsed breaking environmental laws, and deforestation has seen a dramatic surge since his election. He has also cut funding for the protection of Indigenous peoples, in what the Catholic Church Missionary Indigenist Council has called a ‘planned extermination.’ We call for the Biden Administration to increase diplomatic efforts to help protect climate activists and human rights defenders.”

The letter ends with a call for urgent action but emphasizes that a deal with Bolsonaro is not the solution. Instead, the signers ask President Biden to “continue dialogue with civil society, subnational governments, Indigenous and forest peoples of the Amazon basin who have solutions and have developed proposals for your consideration, including the Amazon Climate Platform, before announcing any commitments or releasing any funds.”

The artists that have signed on to this letter affirm that now is a critical time to add their voices and support our Indigenous family in the rainforest. As long as the Bolsonaro and Biden’s administrations remain in close conversation, the Amazon will remain at risk because Bolsonaro has proven he is unwilling to halt Amazon destruction.

“Over the last two years, we have seen historic increases in deforestation, illegality, fires, and attacks on Indigenous, forest, and riverine communities in the Brazilian Amazon. We have seen the COVID-19 health and humanitarian crisis unfolding in the region and spread across the country installing a global epicenter of the pandemic. This could have been prevented, but instead, it was accelerated by the lack of action, dreadful policy choices, and rhetoric of President Bolsonaro and his administration. Any agreement or funds, proposed by the Biden Administration to protect the Amazon, human rights, biodiversity, and climate, should be conditional on results, all stakeholders should be engaged,” said Marcelo Furtado, board member of Conectas Human Rights and member of Founding Circle of Artists for Amazonia.

“If the Biden Administration is serious about showing leadership on climate action, including stopping deforestation and other threats in the Amazon, it must listen to Indigenous and frontline communities and civil society, not solely the Bolsonaro administration. Instead, we encourage the Biden Administration to consider the Amazon Climate Platform and Amazon Life Plan, developed by Indigenous and regional organizations of the Amazon Basin,” said Leila Salazar-López, Executive Director of Amazon Watch.

Background:

Civil society in Brazil and the U.S. organized swiftly in the last few weeks due to concerning reports that a deal with the U.S. and Brazil could be announced at the Earth Day Leader’s Climate Summit that President Biden is hosting later this week. In response, a series of powerful letters and statements have been issued to reject such a deal. 200 organizations representing Brazilian civil society and social movements spoke out on April 6. This past week, Brazilian legislators issued a letter, followed by 15 members of the U.S. Senate. The statements urged the Biden administration to reject any deal with Brazil until deforestation is reduced, human rights are respected, and meaningful participation by civil society is met.

This past Thursday, Amazonian voices from Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador were joined by U.S. lawmakers, celebrities, youth climate activists, and a Catholic Bishop during the Amazon Climate Forum to urge the Biden Administration to center climate justice and human rights in their policies toward the Amazon. The participants promoted the Amazon Climate Platform and the Life Plan to stop the escalation of pandemics that push the Amazon and the world towards collapse.

This letter is also joined by a solidarity statement in support of Brazilian civil society, launched today and signed by over 80 U.S. and international environmental organizations. Among the signatories are environmental and human rights organizations including Amazon Watch, Amnesty International, Greenpeace US, Sunrise Project, Fridays for Future, 350.org, Rainforest Action Network, Rainforest Foundation US, Planete Amazone, Global Witness, Friends of the Earth US, and California Environmental Justice Alliance, among many others. This statement demonstrates the growing movement demanding that the Biden Administration only move forward with proposals to address deforestation in the Amazon that are “built from dialogue with civil society and with the frontline communities and that no talks should move forward until Brazil has slashed deforestation rates to the level required by the national climate change law.”

To maintain the pressure on the importance of the Amazon for our climate, today a Jumbotron positioned on the Washington grounds in DC, facing the White House, will take people on a 20-minute visual tour of the Arctic’s fragile ecosystem, the Amazon’s unique biome and human-caused threats, as well as Antarctica, the most untouched environment on Earth. Co-created by AmazonAid Foundation, Amazon Watch, Sebastian Copeland, and Artists for Amazonia, its purpose is to inform civil society, lawmakers, and political advisers on the eve of the Earth Day summit hosted by President Biden, and to send a clear message that global anthropogenic activities are dooming these keystone environments.