Brazilian Committee urges Dilma to veto pardon for illegal deforestation
Brasilia, Brazil - On Tuesday (Nov. 29), a 26-member group from the Comitê Brasil in Defence of the Forests was received by the Head of the General Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic, Minister Gilberto Carvalho and handed in a petition with 1.5 million signatures of Brazilian people against the proposed alterations to the Forest Law. The group also called on President of the Republic Dilma Rousseff to abide by the formal commitments she made during her presidential campaign to veto any legal provision in the new legislation that promoted amnesty for those that have undertaken illegal deforestation or that might encourage new waves of deforestation. The meeting took place while thousands of people were conducting a demonstration in defence of the Brazilian forests on the lawns in front of the National Congress and the Três Poderes square nearby.
The current text, already approved by the Senate Environment Committee and soon to go before a full session of the Senate, amnesties environmental crimes committed up until July 2008 and reduces the dimensions of Permanent Protection and obligatory Legal Reserve areas of natural vegetation. According to Comitê Brasil members that took part in the meeting, Gilberto Carvalho stressed that the President habitually fulfils her commitments and can be expected to veto those legal provisions that purport to pardon acts of illegal deforestation or offer any kind of stimulus to new waves of deforestation.
WWF-Brasil Director Regina Cavini attended the meeting and felt that the social movement was given an opportunity to exhibit the extent of its dissatisfaction with the direction taken by the Forest Law discussions in the National Congress and in the Ministry of the Environment, which had entirely ignored the vehement demands coming from other sectors of the population. “Unfortunately, we were not received by the President herself, but the dialogue with Minister Gilberto Carvalho was very productive because he made it very clear that Dilma Rousseff would definitely intervene to improve the provisions of the draft Forest Law reform bill”, she declared.
During the meeting, the Comitê Brasil group stressed the total lack of democracy in the discussions around the draft reform proposal. They informed Gilberto Carvalho, one of the Dilma government’s most important ministers, that the text going before the Senate for voting essentially maintains all the serious flaws embedded in the version that was prepared by Representative for São Paulo Aldo Rebelo (PC do B) and approved by the House of Representatives. During the same meeting, former Senator Marina Silva underscored how important it was for the Executive Branch to take a stance in this process in view of the intransigent anti-democratic performance of the Senate in ignoring the demands of Brazilian society at large.