Journalism from the center of the world

Lula at “Terra Livre” Indigenous Camp. Brasilia, April, 2022. Photo: Ricardo Stuckert.

Jair Bolsonaro has been defeated. Our small SUMAÚMA team fought hard for this result, by producing the best journalism we could. I’m sure you did your part, too. Only by coming together in this manner, and acting as a community, could we defeat the fascist who used the machinery of state in his electoral campaign. We made a huge effort to launch SUMAÚMA before the elections, because we wanted to make our contribution, in the field of journalism, to this crucial moment in Brazil. Only you can decide if we succeeded. If we did, it was thanks to your support: with donations, by reading, and by spreading news of our work.

The most important task ahead is to get back to reimagining Brazil. Discussion about the new government is already underway. Knowing this, we have redoubled our efforts to bring to Lula the voices of the Amazon’s indigenous and traditional peoples, in the series Nature in Power. We begin with the indigenous peoples before moving on to the quilombolas (those who live in communities originally founded by escaped enslaved peoples), riverine dwellers and rural workers of the forest, as well as the leaders of social movements in the cities of the Amazon. Their voices are the first thing we published after the election, because we understand it is the forest peoples who should speak first.

With this choice, SUMAÚMA sets out its political position. The commitments to the Amazon made during the campaign and beautifully reaffirmed in Lula’s victory speech can only be fulfilled with the presence and participation of the forest peoples. It is not enough to listen to them, they must have an active role in power. We learned from Brazil’s Afro-Brazilian and black social movements that the only way to fight structural racism is with the division of power. The forest and its people need to play a leading role from the transition period onwards.

It is clear that not only Bolsonarism, and Bolsonaro, will remain active in Brazil, as will the extreme right that is currently spreading across the planet. It is, however, time to break free from having our daily life determined by criminals who, for four years, held the country hostage to their daily production of lies. This is the subject of my first article published in SUMAÚMA. I write about the need to not only fight, but to fight like a forest. About the need to break free from the kidnapping of our subjectivity. Enough of letting our days be determined by Bolsonarism, or opposition to Bolsonarism; it’s time to affirm our radical connection to life.

We will now cover the two months of transition until Lula’s inauguration. We know it will be a dangerous period in the Amazon rainforest and its cities, because the countdown to the end of the period of destruction has begun. As I write this letter, in Altamira, where SUMAÚMA is based, commercial activity has been shut down by Bolsonarists claiming to fight against the implementation of the “dictatorial socialist regimes”. Since Lula’s victory, they have been organizing barbecues in front of the army barracks. As long as there is meat, there will be demonstrations calling for a coup. And for days, meat and drinks haven’t stopped coming, with the compliments of a large part of the local business community. So says Rodolfo Salm, an ecologist at Pará Federal University, who follows the city’s political life closely. So closely that he had his cell phone ripped from his hand while filming.

With this fifth newsletter, we will celebrate two and a half months of existence. In this period, this trilingual platform that brings you journalism from the center of life has received much attention from the press, especially internationally, and we have already published our work in world renowned magazines such as Time. We describe here how far our voice has travelled thanks to your support. In addition to our Brazilian crowdfunding page, we now have an international version. Help us spread the word if you can. I also want to draw your attention to the Contact button at the top of our homepage. We put it in a prominent spot because we want to communicate with you, and to hear your criticisms, suggestions and opinions. We want to be a community.

SUMAÚMA will continue stronger than ever in this new phase for Brazil. We reaffirm our commitment to nature and nature-peoples. And not just humans. Everything indicates that in the next few days humanity will reach the 8 billion people mark. Our species has dominated the planet at the cost of the extinction of almost all of the others. SUMAÚMA will continue its coverage in defense of a democracy that embraces non-human peoples, and the rights of nature. We also reaffirm our unyielding commitment to the search for truth. Faced with a new government, we will do what the best journalism does: we will be vigilant, critical and investigative. From the Amazon, we will carefully observe the actions and choices of the government. With honesty, rigor and ethics, but also with vigor. With this in mind, we are already anxious to assess the racial, ethnic and gender composition of the third Lula government.

Thanks, once again, to the SUMAÚMA community, for making this journalism created at the center of life possible.

Eliane Brum
Sumaúma Creator and Editor

Translated by James Young

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