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A Future for the Amazon

Professor at Universidade Estadual do Pará [State University of Pará] and member of the Fórum Brasileiro de Segurança Pública [Brazilian Public Security Forum].

Aiala Colares Couto

Translated by Marcus Alexandre C. de Souza; Silvia Benchimol; Ewerton Branco (UFPA/ET-Multi)


A future for the Amazon? Above all, thinking about a future for the Amazon region means thinking about emergency issues about life from - and in - the forest, which are concerned not only with the ecosystem and the biodiversity, but also with the way of life and survival of our populations. Thinking about a future for the Amazon is also bringing up the debate about climate security or even planetary security, which means that we should not be selfish to the point of thinking that the Amazon is important only for peoples who live here.

Certainly, the expansion of the capitalist mode of production brought great environmental imbalances to the world. It is possible to emphasize the global warming resulting from the emission of polluting gas due to the use of fossil fuels (coal and oil), having deforestation and fires as accelerator vectors for this process.

So, how should we think about a future for the Amazon? The answer to this question does not seem to be simple. For almost a century, the expansion of the Amazonian economic frontier has neglected the role of traditional communities in maintaining life in the forest, besides encouraging a process of capital accumulation based on spoliation of nature. We usually say that spatial adjustments were made in the region with the aim of promoting the exploitation of wealth. On the one hand, this wealth has generated income concentration; on the other, it has generated social and environmental conflicts. The violence of the capital consolidation in the Amazon is marked by stories of genocide and ecocide that made the real needs and cultures of the Amazonian peoples invisible.

So, what would be the answer to that question? The path to follow so that we can finally reach the ideal model, which has environmental, social and economic sustainability as its main drivers of development, sounds like a utopia. Perhaps, believing that it is possible to produce and distribute wealth while keeping the forest alive and preserving its rich biodiversity is, in fact, utopian. In addition, strengthening traditional knowledge from local productive arrangements can ensure the insertion of Amazonian communities that have their sources of income deriving from extractivism. A rich amount of wealth is also generated from empirical knowledge and ancestral knowledge, which fully warrant and meet the requirements for a sustainable and inclusive community-based tourism incentive.

Perhaps it may seem utopian, but nature is capable of providing good living ambience, which is lacking for the peoples from the forest. These peoples face not only environmental problems, but also social issues, such as poverty, malnutrition and low human development index. In addition to everything already highlighted, these peoples survive with the reality of invasions and expropriation of their lands, which is a violence - not only physical, but also symbolic. It represents a process of making invisible the existence of the being.

For this reason, I believe that some important strategies to think about a future for the Amazon consists in liberating educational processes, promoting greater popular participation in decision-making processes, receiving the empathy on the part of the public authorities and facing the most varied types of environmental crimes, along with a policy to combat poverty. I reinforce the idea that there is no future for the Amazon without an active participation of its peoples in political and economic processes that are based on the ideal of sustainability and good living.