At the World Economic Forum in January 2019, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro said, in an informal conversation with former US vice president Al Gore, that he wants to exploit the riches of the Amazon in partnership with the United States.
In new documentary ‘The Forum’, Brazil’s far-right president is caught in candid conversation with former U.S. vice, candidate, and environmental campaigner, Al Gore. The film, directed by German Marcus Vetter is a fly on the wall account of the January 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland.
In an excerpt from the film, Gore seeks to ask Brazil’s far-right president about the Amazon rainforest.
“You know we’re all deeply concerned about the Amazon, and I’m sorry to raise this issue with you at an informal meeting, but I care passionately about it”, Gore tells Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro appears to misinterpret Gore’s sentiment and explains, through an interpreter that “The Amazon cannot be forgotten. We have a wealth of resources. We would very much like to exploit (interpreter uses “tap into”) these resources together with the United States.”
Gore responds “I’m not sure what that means.”
In an awkward exchange, Bolsonaro also sought to defend Brazil’s brutal military dictatorship, claiming that its story had been “badly told”.
President Bolsonaro was accompanied in the meeting by his Minister for Foreign Affairs Ernesto Araújo who in September 2019 met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington D.C. where the pair announced a new U.S.-Brazil bilateral agreement to open up the Amazon Rainforest to private sector development.
Araújo called the agreement “…the Holy Grail of Brazil’s foreign policy, at least for the private sector”.
Bolsonaro came to power with the backing of international capital, and U.S. corporations have been amongst the biggest beneficiaries from Brazil’s democratic collapse, in particular those represented by Wall Street Lobby and Think Tank, Council of the Americas (AS/COA), who in ahead of Davos 2019 was breathless in its praise of Paulo Guedes and the economic policy of the incoming Bolsonaro regime: “To the attendees of the World Economic Forum: This week in Davos, you will meet a man who seems destined to change Brazil for the better. Brilliant and disciplined, he has put together a truly first-rate team. In just three weeks in office, he seems to have correctly diagnosed what ails the world’s most disappointing large economy of recent years. There in the Swiss Alps, he will present his plan for fixing it; you will likely be dazzled. This man’s name is Paulo Guedes.” enthused Brian Winter, Vice President of Policy, atAS/COA and Editor-in-Chief of its in house magazine, Americas Quarterly.
Read more about the corporate exploitation of the Amazon in this series of articles.