Sunday 15 September 2019

'We need to act now' - Protesters occupy Brazilian Embassy amid Amazon rainforest fires

Around 100 protesters occupied the building, with a similar protest taking place in the Brazilian Consulate in Cork

A protester holds a banner at today's protest.
A protester holds a banner at today's protest.
Protesters pictured outside the Brazilian Embassy
Protesters occupy the Brazilian Embassy in Dublin

Niamh Lynch

Protesters have occupied the Brazilian Embassy the afternoon in reaction to the fires in the Amazon rainforest that has gripped social media.

The small protest of around 100 protesters was attended by groups such as Extinction Rebellion Ireland, Fridays for Future Ireland, and the Brazilian Left Front. The group opposes Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s position on Amazon deforestation.

The protesters also oppose Ireland signing the Mercosur deal amidst the ongoing fires. However, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has already said Ireland would oppose ratification if Brazil does not take action to stop the Amazon fires.

It is understood that after gathering outside the building, some protesters occupied the lobby area. 

The embassy is situated on Charlotte Way, between Camden and Harcourt Street.

A second protest is also taking place at the Brazilian Consulate in Cork.

Dublin MEP Ciarán Cuffe, who attended the protest with other Green Party councillors and spoke at the protest, said: “The Amazon rainforest is on fire and we need to act now.”

“There’s two issues around the Mercosur deal - the protection of the Amazon rainforest and the protection of Irish farmers’ livelihood. There’s a huge amount of concern about it.”

Mr Cuffe continued: “Extinction Rebellion and the Greens are very close on this issue. The deal has to be endorsed by Dáil Éireann and the European Parliament, and in the Parliament I will be looking for assurances that the rainforests are protected.

“But I’m looking at the government in Brazil and I’m not convinced that’s going to happen,” he said.

Meanwhile, an attendee at the protest, Chloe Manahan, said protesters feel “really helpless at what is happening in the Amazon”.

“It’s tough to be a conscious consumer and make responsible personal choices to promote sustainability at an individual level, when corporate giants are able to just burn down the Amazon with no ramifications whatsoever,” she said.

“The fact that right wing world leaders like Bolsonaro allow and sometimes encourage the rapid destruction of the planet and its ecosystems in the name of profit-generation is terrifying.

“It’s hard to go about business as usual in Ireland while grieving with indigenous communities thousands of miles away who are suffering so much despite having no part to play in constructing the system that requires that suffering.”

There are currently a record number of fires in the Amazon rainforest, which is a key source of oxygen for the planet.

Environmental groups say the fires are linked to Mr Bolsonaro's policies. The Brazilian president denies these claims.

The Mercosur treaty between the EU and four Latin American countries – Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay – was signed in June but has not yet been ratified.

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