Brazilian Citizen, Glenda Maria Chaves de Araujo, Speaks on Biden and the Issues of Brazil’s Political State

The+Amazon+has+become+more+than+a+river+over+these+past+years.+It+has+become+a+controversial+topic+of+discussion%2C+and+it+even+plays+a+role+in+deciding+the+fates+of+entire+populations.

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The Amazon has become more than a river over these past years. It has become a controversial topic of discussion, and it even plays a role in deciding the fates of entire populations.

What is your full name and age?

Glenda Maria Chaves de Araujo, age 22

Where on the left to right spectrum would you say you stand politically, and what influenced these beliefs? Was it your upbringing or your exposure to the internet?

I’m on the left, though I’m not extremist. I believe what influenced me the most was my exposure to the LGBT community in high school and then again and more intensively in public college. In public college we also have a huge number of marginalized Black people fighting for their rights to have an education. We had to fight together for so many things in our public college, because of constant budget cuts the government does, we had a lot to lose. I believe the experience of having to fight for my right of receiving a quality education was what influenced my leftist political stance because it was clear what side stood with us.

Now, given this information, how would you describe your attitude towards the current president of your country, Brazil?

Brazil is mostly a religious country, Protestant and Catholic. In my own city we have one of the biggest religious processions in the world that happens every year, and everyone all around the world comes to see it. We have a big conservative group of people over here, and these were the people who supported and elected our president. Considering I’m nowhere near being a conservative and how their political stances are constantly trying to deny me my human rights, I didn’t and I won’t support the current president. He’s very racist, xenophobic, homophobic and misogynistic. I could say some of the stuff he explicitly said in public, but you would have to add so many trigger warnings to your article.

What are your current president’s plans for the Amazon River? Does he plan to exploit it, and is it necessary for him to exploit it for the sake of the economy?

As far as I’m aware his plans were always to exploit it. The deforestation rate has been rising for the past years after having been stable for a while. He explicitly said “I want to explore the Amazon with the United States” in 2019. Because he believes that it will “be forgotten” if we don’t.

And for it being necessary, I’m no economist but I don’t believe so. I don’t think it’s something we can exclude so easily from our economy because the agriculture industry still has a big political power over here. But Brazil doesn’t solely depend on the agriculture industry. While we are the third biggest exporter of agriculture in the world, agribusiness is still 5.5% of our GDP. We also have tourism and our domestic industries, the last one being the biggest part of our GDP. Not all of our agricultural products depend on the Amazon either. So I don’t believe it’s absolutely necessary or that the entire economy would collapse if they slowly over the years stopped deforestation of the Amazon for the sake of 5% of our GDP. I mean, the deforestation rate was stable for a few years and the economy was a lot more stable than it is now. Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rose more than 88% in June 2019 compared with the same month in 2018. Bolsonaro assumed power in January 2019 and that did not really help our economy that is currently in recession. So while the Amazon is important for the economy and I don’t think we can cut it out so easily, the way it is being exploited right now is not necessary at all. It is mostly being done illegally because our president refuses to put more rigorous control and supervision over it.

Could you tell us a little bit about what Biden plans to do regarding the Amazon and how it would impact the Brazillian economy?

He plans on “name and shame global climate outlaws,” one of them being Brazil. He said he would offer $20 billion for Brazil to no longer burn the Amazon. And that the country could suffer with serious economic consequences mentioning sanctions. Our country is currently in economic recession. We had a big fall because of COVID-19. We were still recovering from a big economic crisis in 2014 and not fully recovered yet when this one hit us. (You can read more here) Once again, I’m not an economist; I never studied economics, but I live here. I personally saw the prices of all the food going up crazily in the past few years and hitting a new roof this year. I saw how much it affected the people and how it’s getting harder to buy all the food that we need with the monthly paychecks. I’m privileged enough that my parents and I have at least three times the minimum wage per month, and we still felt the consequences. If the country would suffer even more “serious economic consequences,” I don’t think the people would be able to keep food on their tables.

Between Trump and Biden, who would be better for your country as whole?

I genuinely believe neither of them. But I don’t think it is about them specifically but about our own president. He shared the same views as Trump, and genuinely looked up to him. Trump supported him, which gave too much power to get elected and ruin the country as it is. And with Biden and Bolsonaro not getting along, I don’t think it will help us either way. While I do believe the deforestation rate should go down and that there should be more rigorous laws protecting the Amazon, we cannot just yet completely stop exploiting the Amazon, though I hope in the future we do. 

Could you tell us a bit about why imposing a sanction would also be detrimental to your country’s economy?

It’s just like this: our president is a Trump supporter. He already made his statement about Biden’s plans with the Amazon and he does not support it and even threatened war. Brazil is still in major debt, and our economy took a huge toll this year. We hit a record in unemployment too. We’re JUST getting a bit better. If we did face economic sanctions we would be doomed. Sure Bolsonaro could bow under pressure but if he did not I do not know what would happen. If Biden does well, our economy could improve a little but I do not know how much that would help if we ended up having sanctions. 

“So while the Amazon is important for the economy and I don’t think we can cut it out so easily, the way it is being exploited right now is not necessary at all,” said Glenda Maria Chaves de Araujo.

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