Jan 17, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – Ahead of Friday’s state visit here by Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro, the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) says the Government of Guyana should use the opportunity at the upcoming meeting to re-habilitate its tattered credibility on climate issues, by distinguishing its Amazonia policies, from the Brazil leader’s scorched earth approach.
Bolsonaro is due here on Friday and at a recent preparatory meeting, President Dr. Irfaan Ali listed energy, food security, telecommunication, infrastructure integration and trade as some of the issues he would like to discuss with his Brazilian counterpart. President Ali also wants to discuss the possibility of Brazil assisting with the development of Guyana’s bauxite industry and increasing the quota for rice exports under a partial scope agreement.
In a statement on Saturday, the GHRA said visit by Bolsonaro creates a dilemma for this country. Underscoring that closer relations with Brazil – Guyana’s major supporter on its long-standing border controversy with Venezuela – are always welcome, the GHRA said at the same time, however, it is distasteful to everyone around the world concerned with the environmental and climate crises to have to deal with President Bolsonaro personally. “Squaring this circle is the difficult task facing the Government of Guyana,” the human rights body stated.
The GHRA said only last month, December 2021, over one million people worldwide signed an AVAAZ petition calling on the International Criminal Court “to take all necessary steps to start an investigation into Brazil’s, President Jair Bolsonaro, for possible crimes against humanity over his government’s policies against the Amazon and its people. We urge member states to take action to ensure that severe damage to the environment, whether widespread or long-term, is fully recognized as a crime of ecocide, and can be prosecuted under international law.
The global Petition went on to state that Bolsonaro “green-lighted illegal mining and logging in indigenous lands, sabotaged environmental laws and now the destruction of the Amazon has risen by more than 20% in a year – a loss equivalent to 3,000 football fields per day”. Additionally, in 2019, President Bolsonaro accused “NGOs” of setting the Amazon forest fires, while continuously ignoring illegal clear-cutting by supporters who were emboldened by his right-wing Government.
“The one positive from the visit would be the opportunity it offers for the Guyana Government to engage with Brazil on environmental and climate issues and simultaneously break its own prolonged silence on where it stands on them. In stark contrast to a decade ago, when Guyana’s opposition to deforestation was globally recognized, the current obsession with oil, gas and gold mining expansion has completely swept these concerns off the table,” the GHRA said.
It noted the fact that in the past year Guyana ratified and Brazil signed the Ecazu Agreement, which provides a rationale for this agenda item. Ecazu is the Regional Agreement on Access to information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean. Discussion on implementation of the Ecazu provisions is not only a conversation starter; it is a mutual obligation of both parties. Indeed, ratification of the Treaty by Brazil should be proposed as a condition for implementation of the trans-Amazon highway, long sought by both the Inter-American Development Bank and Brazil.
“It remains to be seen whether the Government will seize this opportunity to re-habilitate its tattered credibility on climate issues, by distinguishing Guyana’s Amazonia policies from President Bolsonaro’s scorched earth approach. Not doing so will reinforce the current image of Guyana inviting all-comers, reputable and disreputable, into an orgy of natural resource extraction. To deter comparison with the reckless approach of the Brazilian President, the Guyana Government needs to clarify the non-negotiables which ought to distinguish Guyana’s Amazonia policies from those of its neighbour.” The GHRA said joint involvement in such discussions by all Parliamentary parties would both give credence to claims to their having espoused ‘green’ climate and ’green’ development policies, as well as give some impetus to developing a genuine national position on climate change and the environment.
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