Webinar: The Media, the Amazon and the 2022 Brazil Elections

Event Date: 
August 30, 2022

September 5, Amazon Day, will be marked in Brazil this year by the most consequential electoral campaign for the future of this vital forest to the world. But the politics that threaten the forest are not just about Bolsonaro's attacks at the federal level — they are also present in the local executive and legislature in the states of the so-called Legal Amazon.

A new report, carried out by Smoke Signal socio environmental monitor, shows that the overwhelming majority of politicians in each of these nine states supported — and in some cases even reinforced — the dismantling of environmental policy to protect the forest at the federal level. The study provides a thorough analysis of the main causes of deforestation, fires and attacks on indigenous territories in each of the nine states, identifying critical elements that must be addressed in due diligence laws in importing markets.

This is a chance to go deeper in your coverage on the Brazilian Amazon. I would therefore like to invite you to a private meeting to launch this report on 30 August at 11am Brasilia Time (GMT-3).

Date: Tuesday, August 30, 2022
Time: 11:00 a.m.- 01:30 p.m. (Brasília, GMT-3) // 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET.
Where: Zoom platform; no streaming; closed event for 100 guests; registration here
Audience: This event is aimed at journalists, correspondants, grassroots communicators and independent media. Simultaneous translation PT/EN.
An event by: Smoke Signal socio environmental monitor
With the support of: Instituto Vero, Climainfo, ABRAJI, Washington Brazil Office

Panel featuring:

  • Rebeca Lerer (coordinator for Sinal de Fumaça/Smoke Signal)
  • Guests: Elaíze Farias (Amazônia Real), Katia Brembatti (Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism), Jonathan Watts (The Guardian) and Paulo Abrão (Washington Brazil Office)
  • Testimonials and participation of activists and social movements from the nine states of the Amazon region
  • Moderation: Helena Palmquist


Helena Palmquist was born and lives in the Brazilian Amazon. She is a journalist and a graduate and postgraduate anthropologist from the Federal University of Pará. She worked for regional and national media outlets and, since 2004, is advisor to the Federal Public Prosecution Office in Pará State, liaising with the press, the judiciary, NGOs and social movements.

Rebeca Lerer, journalist and human rights activist. She started as a communications trainee at SOS Atlantic Rainforest Foundation (1996-1998); worked for Greenpeace for 11 years on forests, climate and nukes campaigns (1998-2009), including the establishment of the Manaus field office in 1999; co-founder of culture and activism center Matilha Cultural in downtown São Paulo (2009-2011); acted for 3 years as communications coordinator for the Secretariat of the Global Commission on Drug Policy with former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso and former UNSG Kofi Annan (2011-2014); helped building the Alliance for the Water during the Sao Paulo water supply collapse (2014-2015); coordinated campaign against killings by the police and racism against black youth during Rio 2016 Olympics for Amnesty International (2015-2016). For the past six years, has been working as an independent consultant for strategic planning and communications for environmental and human rights projects for a range of stakeholders, such as IAS (Water and Sanitation Institute), Movimentos - Drugs, Youth and Favelas, CESeC - Center for Security and Citizenship Studies, Black Initiative for Drug Policy Reform, Brazilian Drug Policy Platform, ClimaInfo, Instituto SocioAmbiental (ISA) and Science and Culture Forum of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, among others. Rebeca is also a volunteer on the collective that organizes São Paulo's annual Marijuana March since 2008. She has created, developed and coordinates Smoke Signal together with Lema Agency since 2019.

Elaíze Farias is cofounder of independent investigative news agency Amazônia Real, based in Manaus (AM). She is a reference on reporting about indigenous peoples, traditional communities, violations of territorial and human rights as well as socio environmental violence. She is a journalist who graduated from the Federal University of Amazonas (UFAM).

Katia Brembatti is a journalist with over two decades of experience, graduated from the State University of Ponta Grossa (UEPG), specialized on environmental management by University Positivo (UP), where she also works as a professor since 2013. In the 16 years she worked for newspaper Gazeta do Povo, where she covered politics, environment, infrastructure and the Justice System. With the feature series Diários Secretos (Secret Diaries), with a team of 3 colleagues, received the Esso and Tim Lopes Awards, as well as the Ipys Award for best Latin American feature and the Global Shining Light Award for best feature from a developing country. She was a finalist for the HSBC Award for best coverage of the Rio+20 conference and winner of the SOS Atlantic Forest Foundation Award. She works as editor at Estadão Verifica, a fact checking section of O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper. She is the president of the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji) for the period 2022-2023.

Paulo Abrão is a Visiting Scholar at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University and senior advisor for NGO Article 19 in South America. He has a doctorate degree in Law from Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro and is a postgraduate from University of Chile. He is a Law professor in Brazil, Spain, Argentina and the USA. Recently, he acted as Executive Secretary for the Inter-american Commission on Human Rights for the Organization of the American States (OAS). Before, he was Executive Secretary for the Human Rights Public Policy Institute for Mercosur. In Brazil, he worked for the public sector serving as National Secretary of Justice; president for the Amnesty Commission; president for the National Committee for Refugees; president for the National Council to Fight  Counterfeit and Crimes against Intellectual Property and for the National Committee Against Human Trafficking. He is also a lawyer at IHR LEGAL, a Law firm with offices in Washington and Geneva, which specializes in litigation on international human rights legislation.

Jonathan Watts is global environment editor for The Guardian. He was previously a correspondent for the paper in Latin America and East Asia, where he wrote a book on China’s environmental crisis. In 2017 he founded the Rainforest Journalism Fund, a US $5.5million programme administered by the Pulitzer Center to support coverage of rainforest issues in the Amazon, West Africa and Southeast Asia. He now lives in the amazonian city of Altamira, where he is writing a book about the Gaia philosopher James Lovelock. He and his wife Eliane Brum will soon launch a new Amazon-based newsletter called Sumaúma. Jon was a close friend of Dom Phillips and helped to coordinate the response to his disappearance.

Guest speakers from all 9 Legal Amazon states:

  • Acre - Tarisson Nawa, of the Nawa people, of the Indigenous Land in the Serra do Divisor National Park (PNSD), journalist and press officer for Podáali - Brazilian Amazon Indigenous Fund, Master's student in Social Anthropology (PPGAS/MN-UFRJ), Juruá/AC.
  • Amapá - Gil Reis, communications director at Instituto Mapinguari, Macapá/AP
  • Amazonas - Carlos Durigan, geographer and director of Wildlife Conservation Society Brazil, Manaus/AM
  • Maranhão - Diogo Cabral, popular lawyer, São Luís/MA
  • Mato Grosso - Eliane Xunakalo, institutional advisor to the Federation of Indigenous Peoples and Organizations of Mato Grosso (Fepoimt), Bakairi Indigenous Land, Cuiabá/MT
  • Pará - Marlon Rabelo, journalist at Tapajós de Fato, Santarém/PA
  • Rondônia - Professor Amanda Michalski, SEDUC-RO (Rondônia Education Department), Master student at PPGG-UNIR (Post-graduation Geography Program at Rondônia Federal University) and advisor to the Pastoral Land Commission (Comissão Pastoral da Terra), Porto Velho/RO.
  • Roraima - Ciro Campos, Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), Roraima
  • Tocantins- Evandro Moura Dias, coordinator of the Coordination of the Quilombolas Communities of Tocantins (COEQTO), Arraias/TO.

About the Guide:

The Amazon and the Future of Brazil: A Guide: An examination of the region's nine states between 2018 and 2022 is an independent production by the socio environmental monitor Smoke Signal. The publication brings a selection of the main events over the past four years related to the social and environmental crisis in each of the nine states from the Legal Amazon region. Built upon an active listening round that collected testimonials from 19 people from Amazon based social movements, research institutions and NGOs, the guide also gathers the best available technical data and maps from governmental and press sources.

Each Amazon state has a dedicated chapter on the Guide, and each chapter addresses issues such as land use and deforestation; indigenous emergency; violence indicators; critical projects; disinformation and fake news; timeline with local highlights; the role played by state governments and how the Amazon Caucus elected for the 2018-2022 legislature voted on four key projects from the Bolsonaro Destruction Package currently in National Congress. In conclusion, an infographic summarizes the main threats and projects to the region. With a little over a month to the October federal elections, the Guide aims to contribute to a better understanding of the political, economic and criminal forces that have pushed the deforestation borders and fueled human rights violations in various parts of the Legal Amazon under Bolsonaro's government, and place it as a central issue in such a turning point for Brazil's democracy. The material will be launched in Portuguese and English on August 30, 2022; it will be available, under strict embargo, for journalists and speakers for the webinar from August 22nd.

About Smoke Signal:

Launched in October 2020, Smoke Signal is an independent, bilingual platform updated weekly to organize, in a timeline, the main news, events and political facts related to the Brazilian socio environmental crisis. Developed and maintained by a group of journalists and activists with the support of São Paulo based communications agency Lema, the platform allows for specific searches and selections according to timeframes, issues or key stakeholders. The website also allows researchers, journalists, students and civil society in general to download and archive selected content. Since May 2021, Smoke Signal has a correspondent based in New York City to follow and cover US-Brazil bilateral relations with regards to the environmental and climate agendas. Besides the ongoing monitoring, Smoke Signal operates as a space to bear witness, preserve memory and fight disinformation around the harsh impacts of Bolsonaro's government over the Brazilian socio environmental governance.


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