Amazon fires: Bolsonaro actively trying to devastate rainforest, leaked documents show

Zamira Rahim
The fires, represented by red dots have spread across the rainforest: Screenshot/NASA

Jair Bolsonaro hopes to sabotage conservation efforts in the Amazon, leaked documents show.

A series of powerpoint slides reveal that Brazilian government officials intend to build a bridge, motorway and hydroelectric plant through the rainforest.

The plans, which were leaked to Open Democracy, have emerged as fires rage throughout the Amazon.

Brazil’s space research centre, Inpe, has detected 72,843 fires so far this year an 84 per cent rise compared to 2018.

The fires have been blamed for a plume of smoke which blocked out the sun over Sao Paulo on Monday.

The leaked slides are thought to have been used at a meeting in February, held between Brazilian government officials and local leaders in the Para state, which is the site of Amazonia National Park.

Development projects must be implemented on the Amazon basin to integrate it into the rest of the national territory in order to fight off international pressure for the implementation of the so-called ‘Triple A’ [conservation] project," one slide reads.

To do this, it is necessary to build the Trombetas River hydroelectric plant, the Óbidos bridge over the Amazon River, and the implementation of the BR-163 highway to the border.

The Triple A project is a conservation effort led by the Gaia Amazonas organisation, in collaboration with NGOs and international governments.

It aims to conserve the world’s largest protected area, a corridor of rainforest 135m hectacres long.

The corridor is intended to stretch across nations, from the Andes to the Amazon to the Atlantic.

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But Mr Bolsonaro, Brazil’s controversial president, appears to be deliberately obstructing the conservation effort and suggest that NGOs and indigenous communities living within the Amazon are undermining the country.

The desperate efforts of indigenous communities to save the forest have recently attracted attention on social media.

One clip, which was first shared online in July, features a distressed Pataxo woman.

The woman accuses illegal ranchers of starting fires in the Amazon in the video. It has been viewed almost five million times, according to BBC News.

Brazil’s government is now under increasing pressure to intervene.

But Ricardo Salles, Brazil’s environment minister, was booed and heckled on Wednesday while appearing at the Latin American and Caribbean Climate Week.

The meeting, which focused on climate change, was held in the city of Salvador. As Mr Salles took to the stage at the summit, he was met only with jeers.

Mr Bolsonaro, a far-right leader, on Thursday claimed his government "lacks the resources" to fight the blaze, but many environmental groups are now blaming him directly for the devastation.

Additional reporting by agencies

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