“The Amazon is on fire, Bolsonaro is a liar” was a cry repeated, in English, by hundreds of people gathered at the New York climate march this Friday afternoon (23).
The protest was led by indigenous people from several countries, including Brazilian leaders Txai Suruí and João Pankararu. They also chanted in Portuguese the chants “demarcation now” and “outside, Bolsonaro”.
“We are on the front lines of this fight. We fight with our bodies, with our lives. Who will give back the lives we lost?”, spoke in English, in English, the indigenous activist and columnist for Sheet Txai Suruí.
Executive producer of the film “O Território”, which tells the struggle of the Uru-eu-wau-wau people in defense of their territory, Txai ended her speech with a cry of “out, Bolsonaro”, repeated by the audience.
João Pankararu spoke about the indigenous contribution to the protection of biodiversity. “Do you want to see the forest standing? Give the land back to the guardians of rivers, forests and traditional knowledge,” he said.
“We are in an era of space travel, technological advances, but we don’t preserve life, so what’s the point of advancing so much?”, asked Pankararu.
The march also featured speeches by indigenous leaders from other countries, such as Ecuador and Panama. They’ve been meeting since the beginning of the week for the New York Climate Week events.
On Tuesday (20), they joined a protest led by Brazilians in front of the Brazilian consulate while Jair Bolsonaro was speaking at the UN General Assembly. The president said that 80% of the Amazon is untouched — even though less than half of the Amazon’s territory is protected by law.
One of the banners carried by two Brazilian protesters carried the message “stop Bolsonaro” (stop Bolsonaro). At the end of the march, a supporter of the president started an argument, but was separated from the group.
The climate march was organized by the Fridays for Future movement, initiated by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. Although she did not go to the United States, the protest was attended by Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate, who is also part of the movement and has risen in global discussions in the last two years, especially taking up the climate justice agenda.
The American activists brought together local agendas — such as the attempt to stop new gas infrastructure in the Bronx region — and national, with the call for President Joe Biden to recognize the climate emergency in a decree.
The march also made a call to international leaders, emblazoned on signs and T-shirts, that environmental destruction be punished as a crime of ecocide.
“My parents are Yoruba, my great-grandmother left Nigeria for Brazil, so I know that awareness integrates our local solutions into the global context, as we are all connected,” he told Sheet American activist Aderinsola Babawale, 20, has been a member of Fridays for Future for a year.
The Planeta em Transe project is supported by the Open Society Foundations.