The Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, signed a decree that extends until April 30, 2021 the authorization for members of the Armed Forces to participate in operations to combat environmental crimes in the Amazon.
The operations of members of the Army, Navy and Air Force in the largest rainforest in the world began in May of this year as a reaction by the far-right leader to the growing criticism of the alleged omission of the Government against the devastation of the Amazon and his anti-environmentalist discourse.
The Military intervention in what is considered the largest plant lung in the world, which expired in October and was extended for another six months, allows members of the Armed Forces to participate in operations to support the fight against crimes and environmental incidents in border areas, environmental reserves and indigenous peoples and other vulnerable areas in the Amazon.
Military operations for the prevention and repression of environmental crimesAs well as the tasks of fighting forest fires, they are coordinated by the ministries of Environment, Defense and Justice and depend on the specific requests of the governors of the Amazonian states.
The permanence of the military in the Amazon had been anticipated and defended last week by the vice president of Brazil, retired Army General Hamilton Mourao, who commands an intergovernmental council responsible for sustainable development policies in the Amazon region, which covers about 60% of the Brazilian territory.
“We need to maintain military operations because we want to enter a virtuous circle in the fall of the deforestation. Our commitment is to reduce deforestation rates and for this we need personnel to monitor the region, “said Mourao.
Deforestation and fires
Despite the participation of nearly 10,000 members of the Armed forces In operations to combat environmental crimes, deforestation rates and forest fires have skyrocketed since Bolsonaro came to power in January 2019.
Last year deforestation and fires They grew by 85% and 30%, respectively, in the Amazon, according to data from the state National Institute for Space Research (INPE). The number of fires in the Amazon increased by 4.6% between January and October of this year compared to the same period in 2019 and exceeded the 89,176 fires registered throughout last year.
For its part, the deforestation alerts between January and September of this year covered 7,063 square kilometers of forest, which represents a decrease of 10.25% compared to the first nine months of 2019, although it still presents alarming levels.
Tour of the Amazon
Environmental organizations and some European governments have attributed the increasing devastation of the forest to the anti-environmentalist rhetoric Bolsonaro, who defends the exploitation of the natural resources of the ecosystem and is against delimiting new indigenous reserves.
The announcement that the military will remain another six months in the Amazon, occurred the same day that Mourao began a trip with a dozen of foreign ambassadors by the region with the intention of convincing them that degradation and fires are controlled.
Over the next two days, the vice president and the delegation of diplomats They will fly over some areas of the Amazon, Roraima and Pará states, which have been subject to vast fires and intense deforestation.
Ambassadors from Germany, Heiko Thoms; Canada, Riccardo Savone; Colombia, Darío Montoya; Spain, Fernando García Casas; France, Brigitte Collet; Peru, Javier Yépez; UK, Liz Davidson; Portugal, Jorge Cabral; Sweden, Johanna Brismar Skoog; and South Africa, Ntsiki Mashimbye.