Things That Matter

Brazil’s Government Is Wrong About The Amazon Fires And This Proves It

The Amazon rainforest in South America has been burning for more than two weeks. The majority of the fires are located in Brazil, but neighboring Bolivia has also been affected. Fires in this time of the year are common, but they are usually controllable and die off when rain comes. 

This year is different: climate change, experts argue, has translated into a drier summer spell, which is to blame for the severity of the fires. The incendios are also a result of human action, as they are often used as a method of clearing land for farming and industrial purposes. This time, however, things have gotten out of control. 

The Amazon, which works as our planet’s lungs, are experiencing unprecedented fires.

Credit: Instagram. @costa.vicentina.oficial

Experts argue that the massive South American rainforest provides around 20% of the world’s oxygen. As reported by The Sun, if the Amazon is threatened a process of “dieback” could be triggered. This means that the rainforest would spew carbon back into the atmosphere, speeding up climate change. British researchers have said that “If 20 per cent of Brazil’s rainforest perished it could exacerbate this process in such a way which would dry trees, leaving them unable to absorb as much carbon and making it more flammable and likely to spread fires”. So this could actually be the beginning of the end. 

So how bad is it? 

Credit: Instagram. @maribricenod

In short: pretty damn awful. There are more than 70,000 fires burning as you read this. The amount of smoke is so huge that one of Brazil’s biggest cities, Sao Paolo, has been covered by a dark cloud. The sun is nowhere to be seen. As The Economist reports: “Social-media users posted pictures of the gloom, juxtaposing the dystopian afternoon sky with fictional apocalyptic places such as Gotham City from Batman, Mordor from Lord of the Rings and “the upside down” from Stranger Things”. 

Las cosas se encuentran de la fregada, to be honest.

Credit: Twitter. @WMO

The World Meteorological Organization, the United Nation’s weather arm, tweeted about the fires Thursday: “Fires release pollutants including particulate matter & toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides  and non-methane organic compounds into the atmosphere”. The organization has also been updating satellite imagery of the fires which shows the extent of the damage. Half of Brazil is covered in smoke. 

The main culprits: the cattle and logging industries.

Credit: Twitter. @DaniRabaiotti

Wildfires in the Amazon are not natural events at all. They are caused by two main factors: droughts, a product of climate change, and human industrial activities. The farming industry often starts these fires (sometimes illegally) to clear land for animals to roam. The logging industry is also to blame, as an article in The Conversation explains: “These changes are exacerbated by ‘selective logging’ of specific tree species, which opens up the canopy and further dries out the understory and forest edges, which are drier than the interiors. The result: normally fire-proof rainforests become flammable”. Yes, profit is the force behind the deadly force of fire. 

And obviously environmentalists and activists are muy encabronados!

Credit: Twitter. @MuseWendi

Wildfires concern us all. They will affect the prospects of human survival on Earth for generations to come. To be honest, we should all be very upset about this. 

The whole world should be paying attention, but if you Google “Amazon Fire” this is what you get

Credit: Screenshot. Google Search. 

Seriously. Algorithmic searching does not always work best when it comes to raising awareness on important issues that concern the whole of humanity. As digital natives, we experience news events according to our own media consumption, so we risk living in a bubble where everything seems fine while the world is quite literally on fire. 

Yeah, Notre Dame sure is an icon, but the Amazon keeps the planet alive.

Credit: Instagram. @maribricenod

Sure, the Notre Dame cathedral, which was severely damaged by a fire on April 15, is an icon of Western Europe and a source of pride for France. When the building was burning down, millions of people took on social media to send prayers and express their alarm. The response to the Amazonian fire has been small in comparison, which begs the question: what do we value more, culture or nature? Food for thought!

The fires are a sort of apocalypse for indigenous Brazilians.

Credit: Twitter. @karielaing

The Amazon is inhabited by indigenous populations that have survived centuries of colonization and pillaging first by the Portuguese and then by corporations and the Brazilian government. These fires spell disaster for original owners of the land, whose home and survival is at risk. They blame industry and indiscriminate land clearing for the disaster. 

The Internet is pretty angry at Brazil’s new president, the right-wing Jair Bolsonaro, who suggested that NGOs might have started the fires! 

Seriously, WTAF! Even if he has since somewhat retracted from what he said, Bolsonaro has said that the fires are being set by his critics to make him look bad. He said: “The fire was started, it seemed, in strategic locations. There are images of the entire Amazon. How can that be? Everything indicates that people went there to film and then to set fires. That is my feeling”.

Pretty egocentric, eh? No wonder he is often compared to Donald J. Trump. In the latest developments, Bolsonaro has said that his country does not have the resources to fight the fire. Damn. 

The fires could accelerate climate change, according to the UN, but the Brazilian government seems to be ignoring the extent of the catastrophe.

Credit: Instagram. @amnistiapt

The United Nations and European countries such as France are now raising their voices, urging the Brazilian government to act. As reported by Agence France Press: “France’s President Emmanuel Macron said the wildfires were “an international crisis” and called on the globe’s most industrialized nations to address it at their summit this weekend”. 

Macron said on Twitter: “Our house is on fire. Literally. The Amazon, the lung of our planet which produces 20 percent of our oxygen is burning”. 

Bolsonaro’s response? He criticized the UN and France for having a “colonialist mentality”. El burro hablando de orejas. 

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

The Violence Against Women In Brazil Is Escalating And A New Study Shows That Girls Under 13 Are Being Targeted

Things That Matter

The Violence Against Women In Brazil Is Escalating And A New Study Shows That Girls Under 13 Are Being Targeted

jairmessiasbolsonaro / fepaesleme / Instagram

A troubling study is highlighting the horrible state of women’s safety in Brazil. This time, a non-governmental organization found that girls under the age of 13 are facing a horrific trend of rapes within the South American country. Here is what the study by the Brazilian Forum of Public Security found.

A new study shows that four girls under 13 are raped every hour in Brazil.

Credit: Saulo Cruz / Flickr

The study also found that police receive a call every two minutes to report a violent attack against a woman. The study shows a very troubling side of one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women.

“Brazil is still one of the most dangerous places in the world for women,” Valeria Scarance, a public prosecutor, told Brazilian newspaper Globo’s Jornal Nacional. “And the most dangerous place for a woman is her own home.”

To make matters worse, the Brazilian government has been stripping away crucial places of safety for women. According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), in 2017, the Brazilian government closed 23 shelters for victims fo domestic violence citing budget cuts as the reason. The following year, Jair Bolsonaro was elected as president and it sparked fear and outrage throughout the country. At the start of 2018, the HRC also found that 1.2 million domestic violence cases were pending before courts throughout the country.

The violence against women in Brazil has been at the forefront of Brazilian protests for years, even before the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.

Credit: @StylistMagazine / Twitter

In the lead up to one of the largest sporting event in the world, Brazilians protested to warn potential tourists of the crimes being committed. The famous Copacabana Beach was filled with panties and images of women who have been sexually assaulted in Brazil.

Brazilians highlighted the death of a 17-year-old girl at the hands of a group of men to warn tourists of the dangers of being in the country.

The election of Jair Bolsonaro reignited the efforts of protesters across the country to bring attention to the violence women face every day in Brazil.

Bolsonaro, like President Trump, energized the far-right of Brazil. Minority groups, women, and the indigenous defenders tried to warn the nation against electing Bolsonaro are the president of Brazil to no avail. Since taking office, Bolsonaro has attacked women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, indigenous rights, environmental rights, and anything you can really think of.

In one display of troubling rhetoric, Bolsonaro told a congresswoman that she was not worthy of being raped. He made the statement on Brazil’s TV Globo and stated he wasn’t worth rape because she was too ugly, sparking outrage.

As the world deals with injustices at the hands of apathetic governments, Brazilians are trying to fight to save women.

Credit: @Prynces11 / Twitter

The violence against women is startling in Brazil. Only time will tell if Brazilians will be able to put enough pressure on the nation’s leaders to exact the change they want to see for women’s rights.

READ: Indigenous Women Of Brazil Are Refusing To Keep Quiet Over The Country’s President’s Policies