Apr 16, 2019
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is not welcome at the American Museum of Natural History.
That's the message sent by the institution, which Monday evening chose not to host a May 14th black-tie event honoring Bolsonaro.
The event, a gala hosted by the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce, was to honor Bolsonaro as Brazilian Person of the Year.
But days of sustained outcry focused on Bolsonaro's pledge to open the Amazon rainforest for industrial and commercial exploitation--and the Brazilian leader's extreme right wing political positions--convinced the museum that it was not the correct venue for the event.
"With mutual respect for the work and goals of our individual organizations, we jointly agreed that the Museum is not the optimal location for the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce gala dinner," the museum and the chamber announced. "This traditional event will go forward at another location on the original date and time."
\u201cWith mutual respect for the work & goals of our individual organizations, we jointly agreed that the Museum is not the optimal location for the Brazilian-Am. Chamber of Commerce gala dinner. This traditional event will go forward at another location on the original date & time.\u201d— American Museum of Natural History (@American Museum of Natural History) 1555360660
The museum previously toldHuffPost in a statement that the museum did not know Bolsonaro would be the honoree before signing off on the event and that the museum was "deeply concerned."
"The event does not in any way reflect the Museum's position that there is an urgent need to conserve the Amazon Rainforest, which has such profound implications for biological diversity, indigenous communities, climate change, and the future health of our planet," the museum said in that statement.
Activists and opponents of Bolsonaro welcomed the news.
The organization Amazon Watch said it was pleased with the decision, but called for a continuation of resistance to the Bolsonro regime.
"We must come together to denounce Bolsonaro's bigotry, racism and plans for the destruction of the Amazon and violations of indigenous rights," Amazon Watch said on Twitter.
\u201c@AMNH Thank you! We must come together to denounce Bolsonaro's bigotry, racism and plans for the destruction of the Amazon and violations of indigenous rights! #Resista! Pledge your support here: https://t.co/hhAzxCOvlw\u201d— American Museum of Natural History (@American Museum of Natural History) 1555360660
Defend Democracy in Brazil, another group opposed to the Brazilian president, echoed the call for sustained resistance.
"Stop the destruction of Mother Nature and the native people by [fascists]," said the group.
\u201cThank you all activists of DDB and other 11 groups in NY as well museum staff and the people of New York that join us for this ethical cruzade!! Stop the destruction of Mother Nature and the native people by facists! https://t.co/n8u1GLHwdS\u201d— Defend Democracy in Brazil (@Defend Democracy in Brazil) 1555371780
Other voices on Twitter showed their support for the decision and tipped the hat to the pressure campaign that changed the museum's mind.
"Good to see that the U.S. Museum of Natural History agreed to not host an event honoring Brazil's fascist leader Bolsonaro," said journalist Ben Norton, "who praises military dictatorship and has threatened to kill and exile leftists."
\u201c@AMNH Good to see that the US Museum of Natural History agreed to not host an event honoring Brazil's fascist leader Bolsonaro, who praises military dictatorship and has threatened to kill and exile leftists\nhttps://t.co/VbJX2QRjoY\u201d— American Museum of Natural History (@American Museum of Natural History) 1555360660
"The fact that they wanted to celebrate a man who's not only racist, sexist, homophobic, but also rolling back protections for Amazon is horrific," attorney Azadeh Shahshahani said. "Thanks to much resistance, they were forced to back off."
\u201cBREAKING:#NaturalHistoryMuseum has canceled gala honoring Fascist #Bolsonaro! The fact that they wanted to celebrate a man who's not only racist, sexist, homophobic, but also rolling back protections for Amazon is horrific.Thanks to much resistance, they were forced to back off.\u201d— Azadeh Shahshahani (@Azadeh Shahshahani) 1555374117
"No platform for fascists," said academic George Ciccariello-Maher.
The event is still scheduled for May 14th, but no alternate venue has been announced as of this writing.
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