Bolsonaro becomes the target of protests at Greta’s march at COP26

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The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro (no party), became the target of protest during the Climate March promoted this Friday afternoon (5th) by youth organizations, including Fridays For Future, run by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

In addition to some shouts of “Out, Bolsonaro!”, he was cited by Brazilian indigenous peoples and those from South American countries as a threat to their communities and one of the main people responsible for the destruction of the Amazon, in speeches made in George Square, in the center of Glasgow.

The Brazilian president also became a character in a performance, in which supposed police officers dragged a line of activists in the squares with leader masks, chained to each other.

“Weather criminals passing! Weather criminals passing!” screamed the fictitious agents as they paraded past the figures of former US President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Bolsonaro, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Russian leader Vladimir Putin, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“There is no conscience involved in Bolsonaro’s actions at the moment. He only does what is convenient for himself, his followers and perhaps those who control him,” said Canadian Philip McMaster of the Vital Actions for Sustainable Development Association, one of the participants in the march, which brought together a few thousand people.

The image of the Brazilian government’s climate villain in the demonstration contrasts with the speech of the Brazilian delegation 2.5 km away, at the convention center where COP26 takes place: that the country has improved its targets for cutting emissions and combating logging.

In the building’s restricted-access meeting rooms, surrounded by barriers and turnstiles, the government of Brazil anticipated from 2030 to 2028 its promise to eliminate illegal deforestation, advanced to 2050 the year it intends to achieve carbon neutrality, signed a declaration on forests and agreement to reduce methane emissions and promised a bigger cut in emissions than in 2020 — although environmentalists say there is no progress from 2015.

Offers and advertisements, however, are meaningless to activists, as Greta’s speech, several who preceded her, and posters held by marchers show: “No more blah blah blah!” was one of the most heard phrases in the protest.

“This COP is just a public relations event, with beautiful speeches and pledge announcements, but no action. It’s a ‘greenwashing’ festival. [fachadas ambientais, sem resultados concretos] of the global north. A celebration of blah blah blah while the most vulnerable are drowning,” Greta said in her speech.

The call for less promise and more action also came from the audience. “Act! Or the diagnosis will be terminal,” read the banner held by four medical students in hospital uniforms.

“Leaders need to stop talking and take practical steps,” said Marina, 22, from Germany, who was protesting alongside three colleagues at the University of Glasgow School of Medicine.

One of its main demands is that the medical curriculum include the climate crisis, because it is connected to health crises, said Romanian Maria, 21. “Think of the impact that Covid has had, multiply by ten and understand that the future is at risk,” stated Beth, from Leeds, from England.

Also among them, Brazil’s image was that of a country with nature at risk. “There is great biodiversity that needs to be protected by all of us,” said Welsh Lizzy, 20, of Cardiff.

A similar opinion was held by Scottish geography students Rosie, 21, and Mhairi (pronounced Vári), 20, who held a “They’re burning the wrong Amazon” sign. “The Amazon rainforest is too precious a resource to be lost. The world, Brazil, Colombia and all of us have to protect it,” says Mhairi.

Even the youngest ones, like Abigail, 9, were aware of fires in Brazilian forests. “Try to put out the fire, try very hard, don’t give up,” said Zara, 10, who was protesting alongside two other girls of the same age, Sophie and Lucy.

At the other end of the age spectrum, Arnold Pease, 93, took part in the march because he fears for the future of the planet. It also hosted protesters who walked 800 km over 55 days to be in Glasgow during the climate conference.

Beside him in the square where the demonstration took place were Serena, 54, one of the members of the group of pilgrims called Camino to COP26, and her dog Violet, 3 years old, who also walked the 800 km.

“We need to act now, or animal life and human life as we know it today will become impossible,” says Arnold.

This Saturday (6), a new march for climate is scheduled in Glasgow; organizers say they expect 100,000 participants.

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