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Insights from Cristóvão Buarque

Professor of the Universidade Nacional do Brasil, ex-governor of Brasilia, D.F and Minister of Education

Internationalization of Amazonia

As reported in the Brazilian Daily O Globo on the 23rd of October, 2000

‘Brazil’s Amazon basin, some 360 million hectares cleaved by the world’s largest river, the Amazon, holds the planet’s greatest biodiversity reserve. This unique, complex, exceptional ecosystem is a colossal Patrimony of Humanity. Should it be internationalized?’

"During a recent discussion, in the United States, someone asked my opinion regarding the internationalization of the Amazon Region. The youngster asserted that he expected a response of a humanist and not of a Brazilian.

This was the first time anyone had established the humanist viewpoint as the starting point for my response. In fact, as a Brazilian I would have responded simply against internationalization of the Amazon Region. Even if our government had not given it the attention that this treasure deserves, it is ours. However, as a humanist, realizing the risk of environmental destruction that threatens the Amazon Region, I responded that I could imagine its internationalization, just as I could imagine the internationalization (of everything else in the world) that was of importance to humanity.

If the Amazon Region, from a humanist΄s point of view, has to be internationalized, then we should internationalize the oil reserves of the entire the world as well. Oil is just as important to the well being of humanity as the Amazon Region for our future. Nevertheless, the owners of oil reserves feel it is in their right to increase or decrease oil production and to raise or lower the price. The rich of the world, feel they have the right to burn this valuable possession of humanity. Similarly, the financial capital of the wealthy nations should be internationalized. If the Amazon Region is a natural reserve for every human being, then it could not be burned down by the decision of a landowner or a country. To burn down the Amazon Region is so tragic, as is the unemployment provoked by the arbitrary decisions of world wide speculators. We cannot permit that the world΄s financial reserves serve to burn down entire nations according to the whims of speculation.

Before the (internationalization of the) Amazon Region, I would like to see the internationalization of all the world΄s great museums. The Lourve cannot belong only to France. Each museum in the world is a guardian for the most beautiful works produced by the human genius. It cannot be permitted that these cultural possessions, as the natural posession of the Amazon Region, can be manipulated or be destroyed according to the whims of an owner or a country. Recently, a Japanese millionaire decided to have a painting of a grand master burried with him in the grave. This painting should have been internationalized.

At the time of the meeting, in which this question came up, the United Nations convened the Forum of the Millennium and the presidents of several countries had difficulties in attending due to barriers (they faced) at the border. Therefore, I contend that New York, as the base of the United Nations, should be internationalized. At least Manhattan should belong to all of humanity. Similarly Paris, Venice, Rome, London, Rio de Janeiro, Brazilia, Recife, every city with its own beauty, its own history should belong to the whole world.

If the United States wants to internationalize the Amazon Region, due to the risk of leaving it in Brazilian hands, then we should internationalize all the nuclear stockpiles of the United States. Particularly since they have already shown that they are capable of using these weapons, causing a destruction thousands of times greater than the sad fires taking place in the Brazilian forests.

During their debates, the current U.S. presidential candidates have defended the idea of internationalizing the world forest reserves in exchange for the debt. We could begin to use this debt to guarantee the right of every child in the world to attend school. We could internationalize the children treating all of them, regardless of their birthplace, as a posession which deserves the care and attention of the entire world. Even more so than the Amazon Region. When the world leaders attend to the world΄s poor children as possessions of Humanity, they will no longer permit that these children work when they should be studying, that they die when they should be living.

As a humanist I accept to defend the internationalization of the world. However, as long as the world treats me as a Brazilian, I will fight so that our Amazon Region will be ours. Ours alone."

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