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<eyebeam><blast> V, for fire

Carlos Basualdo wrote:
>Finally the Brazilian government has started -yesterday, after two 
>months of inactivity- to fight the fire in the state of Roraima.
>How many fires are still left burning?

Dear Carlos
I share your concern about fires that are still left burning. There are
Maybe I'm wrong, but the information above does not seem consistent with
the news I have been reading. What I read two days ago (Folha de Sao
Paulo) is that it has been finally agreed that UNO will help the
Brazilian Government to fight the fire. The government is to be blamed
for their reluctancy - negligence, irresponsibility, inactivity, apart
from whichever their 'reasons of state' might be - in accepting
international help, offered long ago. But it's not only this 'detail',
this 'delay in reason' the Brazilian government - or better, governments
- are to be blamed for, as they heat other fires just as disastrous, and
counting quite often on international help. Governments are to be blamed
for many things. The death of indians, for instance. Not only the
Ianomami tribes now being menaced by the spread of 'this' fire. 70
percent of the Brazilian indian population have been decimated in the
first 100 years of, Portuguese mainly, but also Spanish, Dutch, French 
colonization of that country (Borges' 'La Escritura del Dios" comes to
my mind). Governments have their reasons of state. But  it was a
decision of the Brazilian people that this government should govern.
Following a very simplistic, commonsensical logic - and, Carlos, I'm
sure this is not your logic, nor mine - to blame the government is to
blame the people. But sometimes it is this logic which governs. 

By the time I arrived in the UK in 1994, a local magazine had printed a
sticker proposing: "Save the rain forests; kill a Brazilian". It could
be detached from the magazine so as to circulate as a sort of flyer, or
be stuck on walls, trees, posts. Responding to protests raised by
individuals - Brazilian, English - and by the Brazilian Consulate, the
editors suggested  Brazilians should learn with the British how to make
jokes with and laugh at themselves. Unfair, to Brazilians, and Britons.
A film about the carnival in Rio, exhibited by the BBC some years ago:
the interviewed chief of police declares that criminality decreases
during the four days of the feast. While he speaks, a caption runs along
the bottom of the screen, reading something  like: "During the four days
of carnival Brazilians give a break in their daily routine of killing
themselves to have other sorts of fun..."
Another (brilliant, really!) program - don't remember if it was BBC or
Channel 4, nor its title, maybe Panorama - about the exploitation of
mahogany, filmed in the states of Amazonas and Para'. Two British
journalists introduce themselves to local traders as potential buyers of
wood, which facilitates their access. They had a special device capable
of providing their location with great accuracy. And a marker with some
invisible paint which infrared (I think) light makes visible. They take
a ride on a truck with two 'caboclos' - local people - who penetrate the
jungle after having located a 'good specimen'. This happens on a Sunday.
The caboclos explain that during weekends guards are more scarce and
less vigilant, being at home with their families. Also, they avoid
existent trails, so that they have - literally - to build the road. And
when they return, they destroy the road, so as to leave no traces. They
cut trees, they improvise bridges to cross streams, they push the heavy
truck with ropes, and levers. They finally reach the site where the tree
is, a huge mahogany tree. The smart localization machine clearly,
accurately indicates: we are in Indian reserve. The tree is knocked
down, cut in pieces, the truck is loaded. All this work is done by two
men, in one day.
The next morning the two men drive their valuable cargo to be traded.
The two journalists are with them. They go to more than one place,
seeking the best deal. Huge wharehouses, all have foreign names, traders
do business in Portuguese with more than one accent. Mahogany is of not
much use in Brazil, it does not suit the climate, it's only for export
(here, among other things, it's used to make WC seats. There is a local
green campaign summoning people to boycott mahogany WC seats). I don't
remember how much they got for the wood, but I remember it sounded to me
as a ridiculous sum. To me; but for the two caboclos it was their
The journalists, in the disguise of buyers, now follow the wood. Not
only the tree they made us see cut, but wood brought by other sellers to
the same buyers, from other sites the smart machine had accurately
located: we are in Indian reserve. Trunks are cut into boards, beams,
planks. The journalists' magic paint leaves its invisible 'V' on each of
Later in the film, a ship approaches a harbor, somewhere in Europe. On
board, the journalists activate an infrared torch. ALL the wood in the
ship had a 'V'. "Visible", like fire still burning.
Cut. Interior. Interview with a gentleman - president, head, ruler,
governor, boss? - of an international organization of wood traders.
Asked about the fact that all the wood on THAT ship was of illegal
provenance, he says: "There is a gentlemen's agreement that wood cut in
the Indian reserve should not be traded. But our organization has no
means to control it, we don't have the power to police."
Who has? The Sunday guards with their families?
Gentlemen's agreements. Are they governed by reasons of state? Reverse?



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