29th of April, Lisbon, Portugal
Videos and pictures: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1IZzGNr7ORbSJhFOs0wAcoRQLQZPbFQ5s?usp=sharing
“Symbolic Flames” in Lisbon, as activists protest against UE-Mercosur agreement
On 29th April, at 7 a.m., Portuguese activists protested in Lisbon against the EU-Mercosur commercial agreement. The protest involved a 125m wide message saying “STOP EU-Mercosur” and some black and red smoke flares in an attempt to symbolically portray the flames in the Amazon forest.
The protestors argue that the Portuguese government’s stance is not representing its citizens, the overwhelming majority of whom are against the agreement. The protestors argue that the Portuguese know Bolsonaro and know how his policies are threatening the Amazon forest, Cerrado and other ecosystems, as well as Human Rights; and they know that signing the trade agreement is like “adding fuel to the flames destroying the Amazon forest”. Mariana Jesus, one of the organizers, states that “a YouGov study has shown that 85% of Portuguese respondents believe that the government should halt the ratification of this trade deal, at least until the deforestation in the Amazon is stopped. This is the highest level of opposition among the 12 European countries studied. Ignoring popular will, we see the Portuguese government as the biggest enthusiast of this agreement in the European arena. Portuguese citizens simply do not support what the government is doing.”
The EU–Mercosur free trade agreement involves a population of 780 million in Europe and South America. Although there is an agreement in principle signed in 2019, the final texts have not been finalized, signed or ratified yet. If ratified, this agreement would represent the largest trade deal struck by both the EU and Mercosur concerning the number of citizens involved.
The agreement has faced opposition from environmental organizations, concerned with the increase in greenhouse gas emissions fostered by the agreement, as well as increased deforestation and biodiversity loss. The agreement is also opposed by the major trade union organizations in Europe and South America, who claim it does not safeguard the protection and respect of labor rights, and warn that “trade unions face increasing repression and violence in Brazil. ITUC rates Brazil as one of the worst countries in the world for workers due to the murder of trade union leaders, widespread union busting and the brutal repression of strikes”. In the European Union, several farmers’ associations have also spoken out against the ratification of the agreement, warning of risks to their sector and public health as well.
The Portuguese protesters are part of an international coalition with more than 450 organizations such as Greenpeace, Oxfam and Fridays for Future, fighting against the ratification of the agreement.
Rede Stop UE-Mercosul Pt (STOP EU-Mercosur portuguese network) – https://stopuemercosul.pt/
Resources about the agreement: https://stopeumercosur.org/#resources
International aliance website: https://stopeumercosur.org/