States Of Being

Richard Mosse: Tristes Tropiques

“The conquest of the forest began in earnest in the seventies, after Brazil’s government, which was then a military dictatorship, carved a highway into the Amazon and encouraged people to move in. Since then, millions of settlers have founded towns and cities, built roads, dammed rivers, and burned forests, ultimately clearing an area larger than France.

Bolsonaro, a former Army captain whose followers call him the Legend, is an unabashed racist, homophobe, and misogynist. A climate-change denier, he came to power with a vehemently anti-environmentalist message, supported by a powerful lobby known as “the three B’s”: Bibles, bullets, and beef, meaning evangelicals, gun advocates, and the agribusiness industry. Bolsonaro has complained for years that indigenous protections are a senseless brake on development. “The Indians do not speak our language, they do not have money, they do not have culture,” he once said. “How did they manage to get thirteen per cent of the national territory?” Before he was elected, he described the Amazon as “the richest area in the world” and vowed, “I’m not getting into this nonsense of defending land for Indians.””


-Jon Lee Anderson, “Blood Gold in the Brazilian Rain Forest,” New Yorker, November 4, 2019