Press release

Bolsonaro using Covid-19 pandemic to build power lines through Amazon rainforest

  • Electricity lines will service mining companies destroying rainforest carbon sink
  • Consultation with indigenous Quilombolas ignored in violation of human rights protections
Indigenous people living in the Amazon have called for an immediate halt of Brazilian government plans to build a power line through the tropical rainforest without any consultation with those living there, in breach of human rights legislation.

The government has claimed the survey is impossible due to the Covid-19 pandemic and so issued a construction permit without conducting a consultation with affected community members required by law or even informing them of the decision. More than 70 organisations that work with the Quilombola people have called this trampling of their rights, and the destruction of the rainforest under the cover of the pandemic, an outrage.

Moises Gonzalez, Christian Aid’s Head of the Latin America and Caribbean Regional Programme, said: “At a time when governments should be looking to protect the most vulnerable, the Brazilian leadership is using it as an excuse to bulldoze through actions which will have a devastating impact on people and the planet.

“There is a good reason that the Amazon and its indigenous inhabitants are protected by law, and the pandemic must not be used to throw out these protections.

“As well as being their home, the Amazon is one of the world’s biggest carbon sinks and further destruction of it will only fuel the climate crisis.”

The proposed electricity lines will benefit gold, bauxite and other mining companies whose activity is leading to further destruction of the rainforest, many of these companies are listed on the London stock exchange and registered in UK tax havens like the British Virgin Islands.

Matti Kohonen, Christian Aid’s Principal Private Sector Advisor, said: “The pressure to develop the Amazon comes primarily from corporate investors in the global north. Mining and logging companies, cattle ranchers, and their financiers, are the ultimate beneficiaries at the expense of the local communities who gain little from the destruction of their Amazon home.”