09 - November - 2020

It is in the national interest to ensure that NGOs are free to act

Open letter against Brazilian government’s plan to “control 100 percent of the NGOs” acting in Amazonia

O vice-presidente Hamilton Mourão (Romério Cunha/VPR)
O vice-presidente Hamilton Mourão (Romério Cunha/VPR)

Brazil, November 9, 2020

Today, on the Ninth of November, through the news article “Bolsonaro administration plans rule to control the action of NGOs in the Amazon”, published by O Estado de São Paulo newspaper, we became aware that one of the goals of the Amazon Council is “to obtain control of 100% of the NGOs that work in the Amazon Region, by 2022, in order to authorize the operation of only those that serve national interests”. Such goal would allegedly be related to the objective of “creating a regulatory framework for the operation of NGOs”, which is stated in the official documents of the Council.

The actions of civil society organizations are a living expression of plural ideas, whose freedom is guaranteed under the Brazilian Constitution. Any attempt to control such actions would ultimately represent an attempt to silence constitutional freedoms. The Brazilian Supreme Court, on March 6, 2019, decided that “any legal provision that has the clear purpose of controlling or destroying the force of critical thinking, which is indispensable to the democratic regime, is unconstitutional”.

Thus, the report that, in official meetings that involve a large number of ministries, members of the current administration expressly presented proposals that violate the democratic rule in force in this county is extremely serious and disgusting. The Brazilian Constitution forbids any type of interference by the State in the creation, functioning or even standing of Brazilian civil society organizations. The autonomy of civil society, as well as free press and economic freedom, are essential and immutable constitutional clauses. The proposals mentioned in the news article, and referred to in internal government documents, could only be compared to those made by other authoritarian regimes around the world, in which freedom of press, expression and association have been suppressed to make room for autocracies.

The attacks from the Bolsonaro administration to civil society are a sad staple of its way of doing politics. Attempts at controlling NGOs were exercised before by the Executive branch and duly rejected by Congress. Such was the case of Provisional Measure (MP) 870/2019. In December 2019, agents from the National Intelligence Agency (Abin) were sent to the Chile-Madrid Climate Conference (COP25) to spy on Brazilian NGOs. In Brazil, the President of the Republic himself has disdained the Constitution many times, participating in demonstrations whose purposes was to attack other branches of the Government. In a recent statement, Bolsonaro even complained about not being able to “kill this cancer called NGOs”.

In spite of the enduring and revolting smear campaign against NGOs moved by government officials, it is worth recalling that Brazil already has legislation to regulate third sector organizations – the so-called Marco Regulatório das Organizações da Sociedade Civil (MROSC), established by Law 13.019/2014 and Decree 8.726/16.

The National Council of the Legal Amazon, an inept institution, with no social representation and hardly any positive outcome in the defense of the forest, should present the country with a plan to reduce deforestation, environmental crimes, land grabbing and forest fires. Instead, what we see is that this Council is being used as a means to devise a plan to silence critics of the government and to stifle democracy.

Under the Bolsonaro administration, democracy, like forests and their inhabitants, face enormous risk. That is why the undersigned organizations call on the Brazilian people to join the initiatives to defend the rights of indigenous peoples and traditional peoples and to support their struggle to defend the Amazon, democracy and all constitutional rights.

  1. ACT Promoção da Saúde
  2. AMAR Associação de Defesa do Meio Ambiente de Araucária
  3. Amigos da Terra – Amazônia Brasileira
  4. Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil – APIB
  5. Articulação Nacional de Agroecologia (ANA)
  6. Ashoka
  7. Associação Agroecológica Tijupá
  8. Associaçao Ambientalista Copaíba AAC -São Paulo
  9. Associação Brasileira de ONGs – Abong
  10. Associação Cidade Escola Aprendiz
  11. Associação Mineira de Defesa do Ambiente – Amda
  12. Associação do Movimento dos Agentes Agroflorestais Indígenas do Acre (AMAAIAC)
  13. Associação de Preservação do Meio Ambiente e da Vida – APREMAVI
  14. Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado
  15. Cenpec Educação
  16. Centro Brasil no Clima
  17. Centro de Trabalho Indigenista
  18. Cidades Afetivas
  19. COESUS Coalizão Não FRACKING Brasil
  20. Coordenadoria Ecumênica de Serviços – CESE
  21. Comissão Pró-Índio do Acre (CPI-Acre)
  22. Conectas Direitos Humanos
  23. Delibera Brasil
  24. Elas no Poder
  25. FASE – Federação de Órgãos para Assistência Social e Educacional
  26. Fórum Brasileiro de ONGs e Movimentos Sociais para o Meio Ambiente e o Desenvolvimento- FBOMS
  27. Fórum Ecumênico ACT Brasil
  28. Fórum Nacional de Educação Escolar Indígena – FNEEI
  29. Fundação ARAYARA
  30. Fundação Avina
  31. Fundação Grupo Esquel Brasil
  32. Fundação SOS Mata Atlântica
  33. Fundação Tide Setubal
  34. Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra
  35. Gestos – Soropositividade, Comunicação e Gênero
  36. Greenpeace Brasil
  37. Grupo de Trabalho da Sociedade Civil para a Agenda 2030 (GT 2030)
  38. Iniciativa Verde
  39. Instituto Alana
  40. Instituto Çarakura
  41. Instituto Centro de Vida – ICV
  42. Instituto Cidades Sustentáveis
  43. Instituto Climainfo
  44. Idec – Instituto Brasileiro de Defesa do Consumidor
  45. Instituto Democracia e Sustentabilidade – IDS
  46. Instituto Escolhas
  47. Instituto Ethos de Empresas e Responsabilidade Social
  48. Iepé – Instituto de Pesquisa e Formação Indígena
  49. Instituto de Defesa do Direito de Defesa – IDDD
  50. Instituto de Estudos Socioeconômicos – Inesc
  51. Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia – Ipam
  52. Instituto Democracia e Sustentabilidade – IDS
  53. Instituto do Homem e Meio Ambiente da Amazônia – Imazon
  54. Instituto Fé, Paz e Clima
  55. Instituto Feminista SOS Corpo
  56. Instituto Global Attitude
  57. Instituto Humanista para Cooperação e Desenvolvimento – Hivos
  58. Instituto Igarapé
  59. Instituto Internacional ARAYARA
  60. Instituto Internacional de Educação do Brasil – IEB
  61. Instituto MIRA-SERRA
  62. Instituto Physis
  63. Instituto Pro Bono
  64. Instituto Socioambiental – ISA
  65. Instituto Sou da Paz
  66. Instituto Talanoa
  67. Instituto Update
  68. Mapa Educação
  69. Mater Natura – Instituto de Estudos Ambientais
  70. Move Social
  71. Movimento de Mulheres do Campo e da Cidade do Estado do Pará.
  72. Observatório do Carvão Mineral
  73. Observatório do Clima
  74. Observatório do Código Florestal
  75. Observatório do Petróleo e Gás
  76. Ocupa Política
  77. Organização De Desenvolvimento Sustentável – ODS
  78. Organização dos Professores Indígenas do Acre (OPIAC)
  79. Oxfam Brasil
  80. ponteAponte
  81. Plataforma dos Movimentos Sociais pela Reforma do Sistema Político
  82. Processo de Articulação e Diálogo, PAD
  83. Projeto Saúde e Alegria
  84. Rede Brasileira de Conselhos – RBdC
  85. Rede Conhecimento Social
  86. Rede das Organizações Não Governamentais da Mata Atlântica – RMA
  87. Rede de Cooperação Amazônica – RCA
  88. Rede Justiça Criminal
  89. SAVE Brasil – Sociedade para a Conservação das Aves do Brasil
  90. Sociedade Paraense de Defesa dos Direitos Humanos
  91. Terra de Direitos
  92. Teto Brasil
  93. Toxisphera Associação de Saúde Ambiental
  94. Transparência Brasil
  95. Transparência Capixaba
  96. 342Amazônia e 342Artes
  97. 350.org Brasil
  98. Uma Gota no Oceano
  99. Uneafro Brasil
  100. WWF Brasil


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