In an open letter, over 340 civil society organizations are demanding that the EU immediately halt trade negotiations with Mercosur on the grounds of deteriorating human rights and environmental conditions in Brazil
ECVC jointly with 340+ organisations call on the EU to immediately halt trade negotiations with Brazil In an open letter published today, ECVC jointly with 340 civil society organisations are demanding that the European Union immediately halt free trade agreement negotiations with the Mercosur bloc (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay) on the grounds of deteriorating human rights and environmental conditions in Brazil. The letter is addressed to presidents of the EU institutions ahead of the ministerial-level meeting next week in Brussels where EU and Mercosur foreign ministers aim to finalise the negotiations. Dowload the PDF version of the letter here. French version of the letter – Spanish version – Portuguese version - German version "Dear President of the European Council, President of the European Commission, President of the European Parliament, We, the undersigned civil society organizations, are writing to call on the European Union to use its influence to prevent a worsening human rights and environmental situation in Brazil. In April, more than 600 European scientists and two Brazilian Indigenous organizations, representing 300 Brazilian Indigenous groups, called for the EU to act as a global leader in supporting human rights, human dignity and a habitable climate by making sustainability the cornerstone of its trade negotiations with Brazil. We fully support this call. Bound by the Treaty of the European Union, the EU and its Member States vowed to respect and promote human rights as an overarching objective in its dealings with other countries. Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has also clearly stated the need for new EU trade agreements to deliver sustainable development. Since the inauguration of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in January 2019, we have witnessed increased human rights violations, attacks on minorities, indigenous peoples, LGBTQ and other traditional communities. Moreover, the administration continues to threaten the basic democratic functioning of civil society while instigating a fundamental assault on some of the world’s most precious and ecologically valuable regions. We are deeply concerned about the following:
- Indigenous lands demarcation has been put under the jurisdiction of the Agriculture Ministry, paving the way for powerful cattle and soy agribusinesses to accelerate their sweep through the Amazon, the world’s largest tropical forest and the Cerrado, the world’s most biodiverse savannah. Though this controversial measure appears to have been temporarily reversed in May by the Brazilian Senate, President Bolsonaro may still veto it.
- There has been a dramatic increase in attacks on Indigenous people, other traditional communities and their territories. In February, at least 14 protected Indigenous territories were reported to be under attack from invaders. In addition, the government abolished more than 35 national councils of social participation. Attacks on people defending their territories or natural resources are on the rise in rural Brazil, resulting in increasing deaths of community leaders, peasants and activists.
- Bolsonaro’s campaign promise of “ending any form of activism” was implemented on his first day in office, empowering the government to “supervise, coordinate, monitor and observe the activities and actions of international agencies and non-governmental organisations within national territory.”
- Both the Environment Ministry and the Foreign Affairs Ministry are now led by deniers of global warming, leading to the abolishment of departments responsible for climate change. Even as Brazil remains a signatory to the Paris Agreement on climate change, it is becoming unlikely that the administration will take the necessary measures to implement the agreement.
- Socio-environmental legislation and policies have been dramatically weakened during the first 100 days of the new government. The Forest Code has been undermined with new measures proposing the reduction of legal reserves and a more flexible deadline for land regularization by landgrabbers. In January 2019, deforestation in the Amazon reportedly rose by 54 percent compared to the same period in 2018.
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