Dilma – Veto All of It! In Defense of the Forest Code
by Luiz Zarref
Leader of La Via Campesina Brasil
The bill that amends the Brazilian Forest Code, voted on this week in the Chamber of Deputies, represents the maximum agenda of the ruralists. The caucus that supports agribusiness and defends those who commit environmental crimes showed their unity and succeeded in approving language so intertwined that it affects the whole bill.
The language of the amendment means that if President Dilma Rousseff vetoes part of the bill, the same thing continues. For example, if she vetoes the part that specifies as 15 meters the minimum forest area to be preserved along the banks of rivers (currently it is 30 meters) – the bill would remain without any mention of the recovery of these areas. Predatory tourism in the wetlands is still allowed, according to the bill.
The ruralists also took the opportunity to make the process of agrarian reform more difficult by restricting the collection of government data about the population and even by annulling the Constitutional mandate that classifies as unproductive the areas where the environment is not respected.
Fallow land, i.e. the cultivated land that is resting, remained without any restriction on time or on technique. This puts an end to the concept of unproductive land. The amendment makes it possible for the areas that were stopped since the 1990s with the regeneration of the forests. There are 40 million hectares in this situation.
Besides this, the ruralists weakened the Rural Environmental Registry in a way that the population does not have access to the data, hiding all those who committed environmental crimes and wounding the principle of government transparency for society.
President Dilma has just the week ahead to announce her vetoes, but social movements and environmental organizations are already mobilizing for the President to overthrow in its entirety the bill that came out of the National Congress.
The president has in her hands wide support from legislators, peasant organizations, unions, scientific societies, and church groups for a global veto.
The role of the progressive sectors is to put pressure, to ideologically confront the ruralists and create a climate for President Dilma to veto this bill in its entirety. The environment and agrarian reform are seriously compromised with this bill that is coming out the National Congress.