Last week, I sat in a restaurant in a small town called Tabatinga in northwestern Amazonia. Looking out to the street, through the haze, I could see the moon was stained pink by the smoke of burning rainforest. President Jair Bolsonaro thundered on the restaurant’s TV, asking how could Europeans tell Brazil what to do with the Amazon, after they had cut down all of their forests?
What Bolsonaro says is routinely echoed by many people in this town and throughout the Amazon. In fact, long before Bolsonaro became known as a presidential candidate with a knack for polemical statements, I heard similar sentiments from farmers and ranchers frustrated over environmental regulations..... read more