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I Have A Dream

Brasilia’s former governor looks at the “internationalization” of the Amazon.

November 30, 2001

Brasilia's former governor looks at the "internationalization" of the Amazon.

Recent legislation passed by the Brazilian Congress has allowed farmers to clear more than 50 percent of the rain forest. That has caused outrage in Brazil — and the world.

But whenever the world has been concerned about the Amazon, Brazilians like to bring up an old fear — that other countries are plotting to “internationalize” the Amazon rain forest.

As a Brazilian, I am against the internationalization of the Amazon. However much our governments have been careless with this heritage, it is ours.

If you ask me as a humanist, I very much fear the continuing environmental degradation of the Amazon region which occupies half of Brazil. In this context, I can envisage its internationalization as a means to prevent the impending ecological disaster of major clear-cutting in the Amazon.

But if the Amazon, under a humanist view, were to be internationalized, then let us not stop there. Rather let us internationalize everything else that matters to all human beings. For starters, let us internationalize the planet’s oil reserves as well.

Oil is certainly as important to humanity’s well-being as the Amazon is to our future. Nevertheless, owners of these reserves feel entitled to increase or reduce production and raise or lower prices.

Likewise, the financial capital of wealthy nations should be internationalized.

If the Amazon is to constitute a nature reserve for all human beings, it cannot be burned at the whim of a sole proprietor, or country.

Burning the Amazon is as grave as unemployment caused by arbitrary decisions of global speculators. Financial reserves should not fuel the burning of entire nations for speculative delight.

Even before the Amazon, I would like to see the internationalizing of all the world’s major museums. The Louvre should not belong only to the French. Each world museum is the guardian of the most beautiful works of art produced by the human genius.

Such a cultural heritage, as the Amazonian natural heritage, should not be manipulated and destroyed at the whim of a proprietor or a country.

Not so long ago, a Japanese millionaire decided to be buried with a great master’s work. Before that happened, the painting should have been internationalized.

I also feel that New York — like the UN Headquarters — should be internationalized. At least, Manhattan should belong to humanity.

Likewise, Paris, Venice, Rome, London, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Recife — each city with its unique beauty — its share of world history, should belong to the whole world.

If the United States wants to internationalize the Amazon region — and not risk leaving it in Brazilian hands — let us internationalize the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal.

After all, Americans have proven themselves capable of using these weapons, causing destruction a thousand-fold greater than the regrettable burning of Brazilian forests.

During their debatesin 2000, U.S. presidential candidates advocated the internationalization of the world’s forest reserves in payment of the debt. Let us use this debt to guarantee schooling for each child in the world.

Let us internationalize children — and treat them as a world heritage deserving world care, regardless of where they were born.

When world leaders consider the poor children of the world as a heritage of humanity, they will not let them work when they should study — or let them die when they should live. But, as long as the world treats me as a Brazilian, I shall fight for the Amazon to remain ours. All ours.