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Open Letter to the President of the National Congress, Mr Davi Alcolumbre

The organizations, collectives and signatory networks of this letter, members and partners of the Rede de Advocacy Colaborativo (RAC), Observatório do Clima (OC), Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture, Observatório do Código Florestal (OCF) and GT Infraestrutura require from the President of the Federal Senate and the National Congress, Senator Davi Alcolumbre, to suspend the consideration and vote of polemic matters of high public interest and that can cause harmful effects on the environment, the economy and to the Brazilian society while the restriction of access to the Senate remains, except for urgent matters related with confronting the crisis associated with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to data from the Ministry of Health, the new coronavirus responsible for the transmission of the respiratory syndrome COVID-19 has already caused more than 290 infections in all national territory. This week two deaths caused by this virus, in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, have been confirmed. Since the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, on March 11, a series of recommendations have been issued by health surveillance agencies and other public health agencies to avoid the exponential increase of the contamination and a possible overburden of the health system.

Because of this, several organizations, public agencies and companies have suspended employees’ in-person work and public events for the next weeks – the Chamber of Deputies itself has canceled their schedules and significantly restricted access of citizens to their facilities, and many Senate sessions are being canceled since this Monday (17). Also, the dismissal of senators above 65 years of age indicates that about 1/3 of the representatives of the House will be apart from the main debates that continue this week.

As suspensions or confirmations of deliberative sessions (even when online) are occurring in real-time and some of them during session times, the country is at serious risk of watching highly important topics for our citizenship (fundamental and inalienable rights) being voted by the Parliament with an extremely low quorum and under no transparent and participative public debate.

Among the matters of very relevant national public interest which can be voted at any time, we highlight the Provisional Measure (MPV) 910/2019, about land tenure legalization across Brazil. This MPV notably stimulates and awards land grabbers, criminals and environmental offenders, not only, but above all in the Amazon, and brings easiness, incentives, amnesties, and unacceptable discounts to acquire the title of land illegally occupied. According to studies from Esalq/USP and UFMG, 43 million hectares of public land (equivalent to the states of São Paulo and Paraná combined) will be affected by the rules of this MPV in Legal Amazon alone, and 35% of all deforestation between 2018 and 2019 has occurred precisely in this area.

In this regard, we remember the commitment made by you, Senator Alcolumbre, during the Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP 25) in Madrid, in December of 2019, to not allow the advancement – in the Chamber of Deputies – of legislative measures involving setbacks in environmental protection norms and impacts on traditional populations.

During COP 25, you have explicitly stated:

“We will not accept backtracks in environmental policy. We will not consider matters that can threaten forests and traditional peoples”.

Matters such as these, of extreme relevance and impact to national public heritage, need to be discussed widely and democratically, without any restrictions of entry of people (citizens and society organizations), parliamentarians, political parties, leaderships and assistances of the Legislative House, and with wide and total transparency and participation of civil society.

Brasília, March 17, 2020.

Sign this letter,

– Associação dos Povos Indigenas do Brasil (APIB)
– Campanha Nacional pelo Direito à Educação
– Coalizao Não ao Fracking Brasil (COESUS)
– Conselho Nacional dos Seringueiros (CNS)
– Conselho Nacional de Populações Extrativistas
– FBOMS Fórum Brasileiro de ONGs e movimentos sociais para desenvolvimento e meio ambiente
– FORUM de Mudanças Climáticas e Justiça Social
– GT Infraestrutura na Amazônia
– Observatorio do Clima (OC)
– Observatório do Carvão Mineral (OCM)
– Observatorio do Código Florestal (OCF)
– Observatório do Petróleo e Gás (OPG)
– Rede Grupo de Trabalho Amazônico (GTA)
– Rede de ONGs da Mata Atlantica (RMA)
– Amigos da Terra – Amazônia Brasileira
– APREC Ecossistemas Costeiros
– Artigo 19
– ASCEMA Nacional
– Associação Mineira de Defesa do Ambiente (AMDA)
– Associação para a Gestão Socioambiental do Triângulo Mineiro (Anga)
– Clímax Brasil
– Conectas Direitos Humanos
– Engajamundo
– Fundación Avina
– Fundação Grupo Esquel Brasil
– Fundação SOS Mata Atlântica
– Gestos – Soropositividade, Comunicação e Gênero
– Greenpeace Brasil
– Hivos – Instituto Humanista para Cooperação e Desenvolvimento
– ICLEI América do Sul
– Iniciativa Verde
– Instituto Akatu
– Instituto BVRio
– Instituto Ethos de Empresas e Responsabilidade Social
– Instituto Sociedade, População e Natureza (ISPN)
– Instituto Centro de Vida (ICV)
– Instituto Democracia e Sustentabilidade – IDS
– Instituto de Estudos Ambientais Mayer Natura
– Instituto de Estudos Socioeconômicos (INESC)
– Instituto Energia e Meio Ambiente (IEMA)
– Instituto Internacional Arapyara
– Instituto Internacional de Educação para o Brasil (IEB)
– Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia (Ipam)
– Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (IPÊ)
– Instituto Socioambiental (ISA)
– International Rivers Network (IRN)
– Imaflora
– Instituto de Políticas de Transporte Sustentável (ITDP Brasil)
– Open Knowledge Brasil
– Projeto Saúde & Alegria
– Sociedade de Pesquisa em Vida Selvagem é Educação Ambiental (SPVS)
– SOS Amazônia
– 350.org
– Uma gota no Oceano
– WWF – Brasil

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