Police, Protestors Clash After Brazil's National Museum Fire

Posted September 07, 2018

"Our National Museum was 200 years old, but that's what we had, and what is lost forever", he wrote on Facebook.

The museum held Latin America's largest collection of historical artifacts, and the damage was feared to be catastrophic.

"Brazil needs to take better care of its cultural heritage and the collections of its museums", he said. Part of its collection was of South American lace bugs, which was preserved in no other museum.

Asked by a reporter why such a disaster doesn't happen at cultural institutions in other countries, Kellner, the museum director, replied: "Ask yourself that".

While the immediate cause of the blaze is still unknown, this catastrophe and the irreparable loss to human culture were the product of policies of austerity and the diversion of vast social resources to feed the profits of worldwide finance capital and a rapacious and culturally backward Brazilian capitalist ruling class.

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Late a year ago, after a termite attack shuttered a room hosting the bones of the Maxakalisaurus dinosaur, the National Museum was forced to turn to a crowdfunding site to seek funds for reopening the exhibit.

The museum's directors said the loss of Brazilian science, history and culture was immeasurable.

"Look at the irony, the money is now there, but we ran out of time", he said. "All federal police efforts are centered on this", he said, adding that two investigative teams were now in the building. Authorities had expressed concern Monday that internal walls and parts of the roof were weak.

Duarte said that anything held in the main building was likely destroyed.

The deputy director of the museum, Cristiana Serejo, revealed that only 10 percent of its entire collection survived the massive flames, per The New York Times. "We still have to collect them and take them to the lab to know exactly what they are". The museum also contained vast collections of flora and fauna specimens, including from extinct species. So far, surviving pieces include the biggest meteorite to have been found on Brazilian soil, weighing 5,260 kilogrammes, as well as a library containing around 500,000 books, some of which date back to Portuguese colonial rule.

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Brazil has struggled to emerge from a two-year recession and seen its political and corporate elite jailed in Latin America's largest corruption investigation.

The protesters were later allowed to surround the museum's perimeter in a symbolic "embrace".

Riot police fired tear gas outside the park housing the museum on Monday as a small, irate crowd tried to enter. "They're burning our history, and they're burning our dreams".

Several officials have said the building was known to be in serious disrepair and at significant risk of catching fire.

The fire lasted more than three hours, destroying nearly the entire exposure. French President Emmanuel Macron offered in a tweet to send experts to help rebuild the museum. But museum officers display a long legacy of budget cuts and neglect. The Associated Press reports that the fire department "got off to a slow start" because of malfunctioning fire hydrants; fire trucks were forced to retrieve water from a nearby lake.

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