Things That Matter

Brazil Finally Banned Burning In The Amazon Yet 4,000 New Fires Have Started In Last 48 Hours

If you haven’t already heard about it, Brazil’s Amazon rain forest is currently being ravaged by devastating large-scale wild-fires. According to recent reports and the country’s National Institute for Space Research, there has been a 77% increase in the number of fires burning in the area this year. No doubt, this large scale destruction is because of climate change.

Despite a recent ban on all burning methods in the Amazon, new fires continue to rage out of control.

Almost 4,000 new forest fires were started in Brazil in the two days after the government banned deliberate burning of the Amazon, officials have revealed.

Some 3,859 outbreaks were recorded by the country’s National Space Research Institute (Inpe) in the 48 hours following the 60-day prohibition on setting trees alight. Around 2,000 of those blazes were in the Amazon rainforest.

The figures come as the latest blow in an environmental crisis that has caused panic across the world, and which led the agenda at the recent G7 summit in France.

The Amazon fires are at the highest level since record keeping began.

More than 72,000 fires had already been detected across Brazil between January and August – the highest number since records began in 2013 and an 83 per cent increase on the same period last year.

If the Amazon burns away, global climate change will accelerate and many fear additional consequences for the entire world.

Because it is the world’s largest rainforest, the fate of the Amazon – often called the “lungs of the world” – is widely considered by climate change experts as key to the future of the planet.

It is a vital carbon store that slows down global warming while providing some 20 per cent of the world’s oxygen. Its destruction – deliberate or otherwise – reduces the ability of nature to suck carbon from the atmosphere.

President Bolsonaro seems to have finally been moved to action but many fear that it is too little too late.

But Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, who came into power promising to clear vast tracts of the rainforest for development, had, until last week, remained unmoved.

He has systematically weakened institutions designed to protect the rainforest, while offering moral support to farmers wishing to turn the land into cattle ranches.

And, although he has now placed a 60-day ban on burning and deployed 44,000 troops to fight the ongoing blazes, critics fear it is too little too late.

Tasso Azevedo, who runs the deforestation monitoring group Mapbiomas, said the legislation’s focus on fire means developers clearing the forest would continue to legally chop down trees – and then simply burn them after the prohibition period ended.

Writing in O Globo newspaper, he called for the ban on the use of fire to be extended until the end of the dry season in November. He said: “What we are experiencing is a real crisis, which can turn into a tragedy that will feature fires much larger than the current ones if not stopped immediately.”

Meanwhile, Indigenous groups are on the frontlines doing all they can to save their native lands.

As the fires ravage the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, some indigenous tribes are turning to prayer in a bid to halt the destruction and protect their environment for future generations.

“Our rituals pray for planet Earth, to always keep it healthy and safe,” Bainawa said. “We pray for mother water, for father sun, for mother forest and for mother earth, whom today feel very wounded.”

The Amazon also supports tens of thousands of species of animals who are losing their lives in the massive infernos.

Some animals may be able to escape. Large mammals, such as jaguars, stand the best chance of getting away because they are able to run fast enough to get away from the fire in time. But many other animals will be killed almost straight away.

Dr Claudio Sillero, professor of conservation biology at the University of Oxford, tells BBC News that he’s particularly concerned about the smaller creatures in the forest: “They don’t stand a hope in hell.”

“Different groups of animals will fare differently,” he says. “But we really need to worry about amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates. They live in microhabitats, and if these microhabitats get hit by fire then they will disappear completely, and these animals will die.”

Many are also upset with the international community for not doing enough to force progress on the fires.

The G7, which forms a coalition of the world’s most powerful and most wealthy nations has so far pledged just over $22 million to help fight the fires. Just $22 million. Let that sink in. It may sound like a lot of money but there are several sports players who make that in one season. There are CEOs who make that in one month. Twenty-two million dollars won’t even make a dent in the immense battle that is taking place across Brazil and Bolivia right now.

The Faces Of The Amazon: Here Are Some Of The Tribes Threatened By Brazil’s Dangerous Policies

Culture

The Faces Of The Amazon: Here Are Some Of The Tribes Threatened By Brazil’s Dangerous Policies

midaugust2002 / angieviaja / Instagram

The recent fires in the Amazonian rainforest put this region under the spotlight. Most of the conversations revolved around the ecological damage that the catastrophic fires produced and the corruption that led to unscrupulous land clearings. However, there was a direct human cost as well. Various indigenous groups that have been decimated since their first encounter with European invaders are now facing the threat of illegal industries and governments, such as the Bolsonaro administration in Brazil. The destruction of natural resources is not the only threat they face. They are also at risk of losing their cultural and religious identity as they are forced to learn Spanish or Portuguese and evangelization efforts are stronger than ever from many denominations.

Here are some of the indigenous peoples that call the Amazon their home. Please do us un favorcito: if you visit the Amazon and encounter some of the original owners of the land, please approach them with the dignity and respect you would like to be treated with. Don’t go back home calling them “exotic” or “weird.” If you want to photograph them, please be respectful and ask for permission. 

The Amazon is home to indigenous communities that have survived traumatic processes of colonization by the Spanish and the Portuguese and then the mistreatment by governments that fail to protect their lands.

Credit: evajimenez84 / Instagram

The original owners of the land of what is now the Amazon in Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, and Guyana have a millenary relationship to the land and knowledge of the rhythms of nature from which we could all learn. However, they have historically been underestimated and controlled by governments and institutions that see them with a mestizo gaze.

Waorani peoples in Ecuador

Credit: javhux / Instagram

They are also known as Waos and they are an Amerindian group that has marked differences with other indigenous Ecuadorians like the Quechua. Their community is relatively small: about 4,000 individuals who live between the Curaray and Napo Rivers. They were a hunting and gathering society and now have to live in settlements due to the threats of oil exploitation and illegal logging, two practices that have decimated their lands. They speak Huaorani, which has no known relationship to any other language. 

The Waorani might be small in numbers, but they are combative and have recently filed court cases claiming the protection of their lands.

Credit: coppercolored1876 / Instagram

The Waorani have stood up for their rights recently, as the Ecuadorian government attempts to take control of their lands. As reported by U-Wire: “The legal battle over the rainforest was filed by the Waorani people in February. through the Ecuadorian parliament. Ecuador had been auctioning off blocks of the forest for logging or mineral extraction to international companies. According to Reuters, the tribe had been battling an on-going court case concerning the selling of sacred Amazonian lands to oil companies”. 

Yanomami peoples in Venezuela and Brazil

Credit: theghostdance / Instagram

This group is made up of approximately 35,000 people who live in the border of Venezuela and Brazil. There are between 200 and 250 Yanomami villages today. They practice shamanism, just like many indigenous Amazonian tribes that hold a spiritual bond with the flora, fauna, and soil on which they live. 

By the way, the lives of the Yanomami are currently being threatened by illegal mining operations.

Credit: theghostdance / Instagram

According to the BBC, “ there are ‘thousands’ of prospectors operating in the Yanomami indigenous land in Roraima.” The Yanomami have historically survived numerous threats, but their current situation is close to catastrophic due to lack of government protection under the Bolsonaro presidency in Brazil.

Tucano peoples in Brazil and Colombia

Credit: midaugust2002 / Instagram

The Tucano people live in the northwestern Amazon, alongside the Vaupes River. They are made up of different tribes. They have a particular linguistic practice: no man can marry a woman who speaks his language. This practice creates a network of linguistic exchange that is quite unique in the world. Rather than an ethnic group with a distinct identity, the Tucano is a group of tribes put under an umbrella term for being geographically close. 

Ticuna peoples in Brazil, Colombia, and Peru

Credit: carosanchezposada / Instagram

They are the most numerous tribe in the Brazilian Amazon with a population of approximately 36,000 individuals. There are about 6,000 Ticuna in Colombia and 7,000 in Peru. They only marry and procreate within their ethnic group, which makes them quite distinct from other groups. They also practice shamanism. Most of them are fluent in Spanish or Portuguese and some of them have converted to Christianity as there are strong evangelization efforts in their region. 

The Ticuna have suffered a lot since colonial times when they came in contact with the Portuguese.

Credit: angieviaja / Instagram

During the 19th century they were used as slaves by the rubber cultivation industry. They have subsequently suffered violence from loggers, fishermen and other groups that try to exploit their lands. They are currently facing another threat that has decimated indigenous populations throughout Latin America: drug cartels. As EFE News Service reported in June 2017: “Near the triple border of Peru, Brazil, and Colombia, many members of the Ticuna Indian tribe are working as laborers for cocaine drug traffickers, a business that has transformed their lives and supplanted the activities and customs that some of them are now trying to salvage by returning to legal pursuits”. It has been hard for many Ticuna to go back to legal crops since the gains minuscule compared to coca crops. 

Secoya peoples in Ecuador and Peru

Credit: hannelore.vendenbussche / Instagram

They are also known as AngoteroEncabelladoHuajoyaPiojéSiekopai. They speak Pai Coca and could be considered part of the Tucanoan group. They are a very small group compared to the Ticuna. There are about 400 Secoyas in Ecuador and 700 in Peru. Their culture is being decimated (some have the nerve to call this “assimilation” as if it was a positive thing) by the presence of oil companies, missionaries who convert them to Christianity and mestizos who occupy their lands. 

Cubeo peoples in Colombia

Credit: mrjhonfredy / Instagram

The name “Cubeo” is a Spanish name used to call a group that calls themselves “people” (pâmiwâ) or “my people” (jiwa). They live in the Northwestern Amazon, alongside the Vapues river. There are between 3,000 and 5,000 Cubeo individuals. The Cubeo people, despite their low numbers, are outspoken when it comes to environmental matters. As CE Noticias Financieras reported back in 2018, a Cubeo representative told an assembly of European authorities: “It is not fair that we are looking for solutions to climate change and we are not thinking about how to protect the true forest keepers, who are us, the indigenous people”. That is absolutely right: the original owners of the land are the true and most knowledgeable when it comes to understanding the rhythms of nature and the best ways to protect it. 

Long story short, we better start listening to indigenous communities. They know the earth and its resources better than we do.

Credit: @AFrontlines / Twitter

Amazonians are fighting for the planet, not just for themselves. The idea that their future is also our future is absolutely right: the original owners of the land are the true and most knowledgeable when it comes to understanding the rhythms of nature and the best ways to protect it.

READ: Brazil Finally Banned Burning In The Amazon Yet 4,000 New Fires Have Started In Last 48 Hours

An Abuelito Makes Dolls With Vitiligo To Build Self-Esteem In Kids With The Skin Condition And If This Isn’t The Sweetest Thing I Don’t Know What is

Culture

An Abuelito Makes Dolls With Vitiligo To Build Self-Esteem In Kids With The Skin Condition And If This Isn’t The Sweetest Thing I Don’t Know What is

JoaoStanganelli / Instagram

Brazilian grandfather João Stanganelli learned to crochet with one goal in mind: to uplift the self-esteem of children with vitiligo. Stanganelli began to show signs of the skin condition when he was 38. Vitiligo causes the loss of skin color in blotches and can affect any part of the body. 

“Vitiligo occurs when the cells that produce melanin die or stop functioning. Vitiligo affects people of all skin types, but it may be more noticeable in people with darker skin. The condition is not life-threatening or contagious. It can be stressful or make you feel bad about yourself,” according to the Mayo Clinic. 

While some of the possible symptoms listed are sunburn, susceptibility to skin cancer, eye problems, and hearing loss, professionals also note that one of the most difficult issues is a social stigma which can lead to low self-esteem or other psychological issues. 

Fortunately, abuelo João Stanganelli is out here putting smiles on children’s faces and reminding them that they look absolutely perfect. 

A new beginning

Stanganelli began to show signs of vitiligo when he was 38. However, it wasn’t until last year, at 64, that he began this amazing project. After losing his job in the gastronomy industry due to a heart condition, Stanganelli wanted to keep busy while he was at home. He and his wife Marilena took up crocheting together. At first, it proved to be difficult, causing him to develop calluses on his fingers. But after five days of practice, Stanganelli crocheted his first doll. 

A tiny idea becomes a big one

While he only intended to create something to pass onto his granddaughter, things quickly snowballed.

“I decided to make the doll for my granddaughter, and wanted something that she would remember about her grandfather,” he told Romper.

Stanganelli decided to crochet her a doll that looked like him, one with two skin tones. However, photos of his adorable doll began to circulate – people wanted in. 

A new way to honor children’s differences

Parents of children with vitiligo wanted a doll for their little ones, but they weren’t the only group that wanted to be seen. Others began to request dolls with a wheelchair, hearing aids, blindness, alopecia, and other differences. They wanted their children to see themselves, and it’s not like there were many options on the market. 

It may not seem like a big deal to you, but just take a look at one of the comments on this doll with a wheelchair, “This is so beautiful it just made me cry. My Jenna has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair. You truly are so awesome for all you do sir. May God bless you over and over.” 

“These are beautiful. I’ve had vitiligo since my mid-40s. My face, chest, back, neck and some on my arms. It is a, “how did this happen” disease. These are a beautiful way for ppl to converse abt this so others understand. God bless you Joao,” another person wrote.

Difference is beauty

“The spots I have are beautiful. What hurts me are the flaws in peoples’ characters,” Stanganelli told CTV News. Kids and parents have told him that the dolls are “helping with their self-esteem.” Just more proof that representation matters, especially to those most vulnerable. 

It’s no secret that kids can be particularly cruel about differences, Stanganelli is providing children with an honorable service — a little taste of what it feels like to be represented just like anybody else. Sometimes the ordinary can you make feel extraordinary. 

“Vitiligo can be life-altering… Some people develop low self-esteem. They may no longer want to hang out with friends. They can develop serious depression. Most people have vitiligo for life, so it’s important to develop coping strategies,” according to the American Academy of Dermatology. 

Redefining beauty

Stanganelli’s dolls come at a time where people with vitiligo are embracing their unique aesthetic rather than covering it up. The Brazilian children’s book Menina Feita de Nuvens, or “the girl made of clouds,” tells the story of a little girl with a superpower: vitiligo. 

Models like Winnie Harlow, Breanne Rice, and Ash Soto have brought vitiligo to the mainstream of fashion. 

“Female models with vitiligo now appear regularly on designer runways and in advertising campaigns, empowering those who once hid behind the makeup to use these tools to enhance their individuality. Women with vitiligo who span the spectrum, including White models with vitiligo and Black models with vitiligo, are expanding the public’s definition of what it means to be attractive,” writes Anna Papachristos for APlus

If you would like to purchase a custom crocheted doll, please reach out to Stanganelli and his wife on Facebook