The world, heritage of Mankind

The debate over the internationalization of valuable raw materials, which are fundamental for the conservation of our species and our planet, is at its peak. The paradigm is the conservation of the Amazon as world heritage. The Brazilian authorities and the public opinion react with understandable patriotism, which should be left behind in this era of globalization and communication in which we live.
The Amazon is the responsibility of all of mankind and its institutions. It is one of the lungs and it is crucial for our survival. The debate is not whether or not this immense vital area is being taken away from the Brazilian people. That would be absurd. It is about is about making their authorities and public opinion understand that the world cannot stand helplessly contemplating the progressive destruction and the poor management of this phenomenal ecosystem of the Earth. This should be one of the main responsibilities of a renewed and real United Nations. Not just the Amazon, but also the progressive desertification of the banks of the Sahara, the conservation of the seas and the rivers, the entire global fresh water reserves and the fight against pollution and the emission of harmful gases into the atmosphere.
If we are not able to honor the Kyoto agreements, we are then behaving in a suicidal way and we should promote a revolution against the development trend that is destroying us. What there is no doubt about is that the ozone layer is larger than any national, international or supranational concept. These terms are redundant in our times. This is why we understand the words of the Minister of Education for Brazil, Cristóvão Buarque, during a debate at an American university.
He said, “As a Brazilian, I would talk against the internationalization of the Amazon. As little care as our governments take of that heritage, it is part of our history. As a humanist, aware of the risk of the environmental degradation that the Amazon is suffering, I can imagine its internationalization, as well as everything else that is of the greatest importance to mankind.”
And in this way he argued that, from the perspective of humanistic ethics, we must also internationalize the oil reserves of the whole world. Oil is just as important for mankind’s well being as the Amazon is for its future. Even so, the owners of the reserves believe they have the right to increase or decrease oil extraction and raise or lower its price.
Likewise, the financial capital of rich countries should be internationalized. More than a few of us believe that the fiscal heavens of the world should be destroyed in 48 hours. That is how long they took to freeze the bank accounts of anybody suspected of remotely having anything to do with September 11.
Minister Buarque argues that if the Amazon is a reserve for all mankind, it should not be burnt at the wish of just one owner or one country. “Burning the Amazon is as serious as the unemployment caused by the arbitrary decisions of global speculators.” And he courageously adds, “We cannot allow that financial reserves be used to burn away whole countries in the voluptuousness of speculation.”
He does not hesitate to claim that if the USA wants to internationalize the Amazon to keep it away from the hands of the Brazilians, “we will internationalize all of the USA’s nuclear arsenal. You only have to consider how they have already demonstrated that they are capable of using these weapons, causing destruction a thousand times worse than the appalling burning carried out in the Brazilian forests.”
The great powers that have sheared their forests, polluted their waters and damaged the environment to an enormous extent in proportion to its population now want to regulate the vital areas of other continents. In their speeches -continued the Brazilian Minister of Education- the current candidates for the presidency of the United States have defended the idea of internationalizing the forest reserves of the world in exchange for their debt.
“Let us start by using that debt to guarantee that every child in the world can eat and go to school. Let us internationalize children by treating all of them as if, regardless of their country of origin, they are still part of the heritage that deserves the care of the whole world. When leaders treat children as world heritage, then they will not allow them to work when they should be studying, nor let them die when they should be living. As a humanist I accept defending the internationalization of the world. But while the world treats me as a Brazilian then I will fight for the Amazon to remain ours.”
His logic is so overwhelming that the criticism to his words, even in his own country, is shocking. Maybe it is not to late to overcome these “internationalizations”, which always benefit economic and financial powers that make up a new imperialism without an empire. It is not too late for that those in charge of the whole world take on as a personal responsibility that each piece of land of this Earth cannot take the treatment that we are giving it any longer. That is what our survival depends on.

José Carlos Gª Fajardo
Translated by Carlos Miguélez

This article was published in the Center of Collaborations for Solidarity (CCS) on 02/14/2005