Desconstructing Amazon stereotypes - Brazilian News
 by Camila Brugnera, Cyntia Trevor and Renata Staudt

The Amazon Rainforest is known as the biggest forest in the world. Five and a half million square kilometers (1.4 billion acres) are covered by this rainforest. The region includes territory belonging to nine nations: Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. The biodiversity of plant species and animals is the highest on Earth. Because of these diversities a lot of problems occur, for example, the illegal animal trade and deforestation. We conducted our research is based on how foreign people see our forest and its stereotypes. We know it is very easy to create false ideas about things we do not know very well, and there are a lot of stereotypes about the Amazon Rainforest, that we, Brazilians, built.

Most foreigners usually think of the Amazon is only a huge and a beautiful forest, with wild animals walking among naked people. They don’t even know about Brazilian native Indians.

In July 2010, the famous actor and film director Sylvester Stallone was recording a movie in Brazil. During an interview, he said: "You can shoot people and blow things up and they say 'Thank you! Take a monkey home with you!'. The stereotype “Brazilians have pet monkeys” is strong among foreigners, but the one that “foreigners think monkeys are our pets” is also strong among Brazilians. We emphasize our own stereotype (and we blame the others for that).

We, Brazilians, build wrong stereotypes about ourselves. All we see in the media are advertisements showing soccer players, carnival and sexy women wearing only bikini tops… but we never see advertisements showing our reality: hardworkers, different cultures, crowded buses and even less the Amazon issues. Therefore, as we mentioned before, foreigners see us through our own eyes. They believe in the stereotypes we show them.

Although we show the world negative stereotypes, we have found some interested people that knew something about deforestation. One of the interviewed guys said that “Beef farmers cut down the trees to raise cattle, but they don’t consider they can do it in another place”, and another one said “I think the government should do something to repair it, this forest is really important”. Even though these guys don’t know much about the rainforest issues, we can notice they really care about it. These interviewees told us that there are actions we can take to save the forest (such as saving water, taking care of animals, planting trees instead of cutting them down).

  But nobody knows that the Amazon is the first state in Brazil to create laws that provide for zero deforestation in the region. It is also the first state to implement social programs in sustainable development reserves to protect the forest and the survival of its inhabitants. If we preserve the environment we will stimulate economic growth. The Amazonas shows that it is possible to reconcile development with respect for nature.

Indians and riparian are the guardians of the forest and they know very well how to extract from nature only what they need, without hurting the environment. Then, the government created ‘’ The Ministry of Environment’’ that protects the biodiversity, water resources, extraction, etc.  

We don’t blame foreigners for their lack of knowledge about the issue: even Brazilians don’t know much about it. We are so far from the Amazon Rainforest that everything about it seems to be different to our reality and it doesn’t seem so important for many of us. The bigger the city the person lives in, the less this person cares about the environment and its preservation: it’s not part of the day by day of many people in Brazil.

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