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Brazil's Bolsonaro is Holding the Amazon Hostage & Wants the US & EU to Pay a Ransom

Brazil's President, chief climate change sceptic, and Covid-denier, Jair Bolsonaro is asking for $1 Billion annually, in return for which Brazil would reduce Amazon forest clearance by between 30% and 40%. He believes developed nations like the United States should support efforts to maintain the Amazon to battle climate change and protect biodiversity.

Developing nations, with few resources to address environmental issues, have often asked for and received assistance from the industrialized world for such projects. So, Brazil's request isn't novel, but Bolsonaro wants the money up front, before taking measures to reduce deforestation. He wants Joe Biden and other leaders to accept his word that he will use the funding to stop the destruction. That's a problem.

Jair Bolsonaro is a con man and a serial liar, often referred to as the 'Tropical Trump."

The New Yorker: "Bolsonaro’s efforts to emulate Trump have included the appropriation of his campaign slogan, reconstituted as “Make Brazil Great Again,” and making routine accusations of “fake news” against the news media. He regards environmentalism as an invention of communists, and has introduced a bill to allow miners and loggers into protected indigenous reserves in the Amazonian wilderness. He frequently delivers remarks that express his misogyny, racism, and homophobia.” ...

And so the Biden administration is reluctant to pony up any money until it sees concrete actions to reduce Amazon deforestation. When asked about Bolsonaro's offer, the State Department responded by saying:

Reuters: "We would hope to see a very clear commitment to ending illegal deforestation, tangible steps to increase the effective enforcement of illegal deforestation, and a political signal that illegal deforestation and encroachment will not be tolerated,"

Wise, very wise. Bolsonaro has no interest in protecting the Amazon from development and he has proven it throughout his administration. Two former Brazilian Environmental Ministers made the point recently:

The Guardian: "What the government is missing is not cash, but a commitment to the truth. It denied the existence of fires in the Amazon as the flames were burning. Brazilian news is saturated with scandals that show persistent government action to weaken environmental bodies, roll back legislation, and ignore international agreements. Two years ago, it dismissed the head of the INPE – the National Institute of Space Research – for the simple fact that the institution had compiled data on the rise of deforestation. Last week, it dismissed the head of the office of the federal police, who had led the largest investigation into the illegal extraction of wood in the history of the Amazon. It has replaced experienced civil servants with individuals without any forestry expertise in several departments, and it intends to effectively shut down ICMBio, Brazil’s foremost institution dedicated to the protection of natural reserves." - Marina Silva served as Brazil’s minister for the environment, 2003-8. Rubens Ricupero served as minister for the environment, 1993-4

It's important to find a way to halt the carnage in Brazil's rainforest, but paying off Bolsonaro without any confidence that he will use the funding to battle deforestation is a fool's game. He must first take steps to rein in miners and loggers, support tough new conservationist legislation and appoint experienced prosecutors to enforce the laws. He could do all of that without spending a dime. Only then should the United States and the European Union pay his ransom.

#Brazil #news #internationalrelations #environment

By: Don Lam & Curated Content

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