Amazon should Save the Amazon

by Winona LaDuke

Ever worry that one day you will wake up and find you are owned by Amazon?  They keep growing.  With all their influence, gobbling and growth, it would be great if they would do something good with it.  Like save the Amazon. 
Really though, they are buying everything, and somedays, I have to pinch myself to see if I am really me or owned by Amazon. 
 Nopeming -- from deep in the woods -- I watch a circus of corporate take overs.  You’ve got Bayer Aspirin buying Monsanto, General Electric, the guys who make appliances and nuclear power plants, well they own 80% of NBC TV, and MSNBC, Enbridge bought Spectra, Exxon bought Mobil, Delta bought Northwest, and Amazon bought Whole Foods. Kind of like watching a Pacman game.  

I just can’t keep track of the drama in the corporate world. Seems like their identities come and go so quickly, it must be hard to keep the right make up, or logo on.  I don’t really know who they are… I don’t think they really know who they are.
 And then, they go bankrupt, and aren’t around anymore. Poof. They are gone.  That, however usually occurs after they have a catastrophic accident. (i.e.: Union Carbide, after the Bhopal disaster.)  Take California’s PGE. Pacific Gas and Electric is one of California’s largest corporations, providing power transmission to 16 million customers. They did not take care of their powerlines, so, those lines caused a fire, aka the Camp Fire.    

 That was the one that took out the town of Paradise, where 86 people died.   Now PGE is filing for bankruptcy, because they have $30 billion in liability.  That means that they have to pay off their creditors first -- the guys who gave them money. It’s unknown how much will trickle down to Paradise.

And poof, they are gone. That corporation is no more.  Somehow, I am trying to rectify in my little head why the President of PGE gets to sit in his arm chair in Bermuda, or wherever, having sucked $6 million a year out of California, and not have to pay for any of the disaster he’s caused.
This corporate gobbling and getting rich thing are really bothersome to me. It also boggles me why a corporation is considered a person under the law, with the same rights as you and I.  Now, a corporation is not actually a person, because a person has a soul. And, besides that, if a corporation were a person, I think they would be suffering from a multiple personality disorder after all those mergers and limited liability things are sorted out.   

Now back to Amazon. That corporation is one of my favorite corporations. I love that Amazon Prime!  Amazon bought Whole Foods.  Now, Amazon is getting bigger. Jeff Bezos, the CEO has done well. 
If only that big Amazon would help save the actual Amazon. The rainforests are getting clear cut, dams are breaking and killing people, mining companies are running amuck, and Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, has launched an assault on environmental and Amazon protections with an executive order transferring the regulation and creation of new indigenous reserves to the agriculture ministry – which is controlled by the powerful agribusiness lobby. Indigenous territories make up l3% of Brazil.

“There will be an increase in deforestation and violence against indigenous people,” Dinaman Tuxá, Executive Coordinator of the Articulation of Indigenous People of Brazil (Apib), said, “Indigenous people are defenders and protectors of the environment.”
Demarcation of indigenous reserves was previously controlled by the indigenous agency Funai.  That’s been moved from the justice ministry to a new ministry of women, family and human rights, under the control of an evangelical pastor.
The decision was included in an executive order which also gave Bolsonaro’s government secretary potentially far-reaching powers over non-governmental organizations working in Brazil. That’s clearly targeted on the successful work being done to support Indigenous peoples by organizations like Amazon Watch and the Pachamama Alliance. Bolsonaro, a political combination between Andrew Jackson and Donald Trump, issued an ominous statement, “More than 15% of national territory is demarcated as indigenous land and quilombos. Less than a million people live in these places, isolated from true Brazil, exploited and manipulated by NGOs. Together we will integrate these citizens.”

Separately, the incoming health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, plans spending cuts on healthcare for indigenous people. “We have figures for the general public that are much below what is spent on healthcare for the indigenous,” he said.
During last year’s election campaign, Bolsonaro promised to end demarcation of new indigenous lands, reduce the power of environmental agencies and free up mining and commercial farming on indigenous reserves. It’s like the General Allotment Act in 2019. 
Meanwhile, to the west, Peru is moving quickly into the Amazon from the west. One of the biggest projects, the $2 billion Inter-oceanic Highway, is nearly complete and runs straight through Puerto Maldonado. Once open, the highway is expected to see 400 trucks a day carrying goods from Brazil to Peruvian ports.

In what’s called the Blue Gold Rush, huge hydroelectric dams threaten other parts of the Amazon.  A consortium of Brazilian construction and energy companies plans to start building a $4 billion hydroelectric dam on the Inambari River, which starts in the Andes and empties into the Madre de Dios River near Puerto Maldonado. When the dam is completed, in four to five years, its 2,000 megawatts of installed capacity will be about the same size America’s epic Hoover Dam. It will be the largest hydroelectric facility in Peru and the fifth-largest in all of South America.

And then there’s gold. Peru is the world’s sixth-largest gold producer, and while much of it comes from Andean mines, a growing portion—by some estimates, 16 to 20 of the 182 tons that Peru exports annually—comes from illegal or quasi-legal mining along the rivers.  The mercury will choke and poison the rivers; all for some baubles on a finger. The Peruvian government estimates that 30 to 40 tons are dumped into the country’s Amazonian rivers each year.

Deforestation rates hit a 10-year high last year and are expected to drastically expand under President Bolsonaro’s administration. Deforestation is considered the second-largest contributor to climate change, after fossil fuel use, accounting for about 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Forests act as sponges for carbon dioxide, soaking it up and converting it into plant material. And oxygen.

The Amazon is the lungs of Mother Earth; and the people who live there are the ones who have forever, they just want to be left alone. There’s even about 5,000 of them who are “uncontacted”, which means they want nothing to do with the rest of us. I, for one, want to support that.  Leave them alone.  After all, oil mining corporations are causing enough messes in the Amazon, and I’d like to see one “Garden of Eden” or maybe just a safe place for Nature. 

So, let me be clear about this.  This past year Amazon, the Company was worth $600 billion, and earned $ll billion in profits. They will pay zero in federal taxes.   I used to think of the Amazon, the lungs of Mother Earth, but a google search engine will first point me to shopping. They appropriated the name of a place, and apparently don’t give a damn about that place. I find that sad.   

Simply stated, before you gobble up anything else Mr. Bezos, aka. Mr. Amazon- can you pay some royalties to the protection of the Amazon?  Or maybe some of what you could have paid in taxes if you didn’t have all those breaks the little people don’t have.   Those Forest Guardians, the guys with machetes on scooters protecting the Amazon could use some gear and some support.  Maybe get it delivered Amazon Prime to a nearby town.  That would be swell.