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SOURCE: The Guardian

DATE: August 9, 2019

SNIP: Illegal loggers are ramping up a “brutal, fast” assault on the Brazilian Amazon with the blessing of the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, the sacked head of the government agency tasked with monitoring deforestation has warned.

Speaking to the Guardian five days after his dismissal, Ricardo Galvão said he was “praying to the heavens” the far-right leader would change tack before the Amazon – and Brazil’s international reputation as an environmental leader – were ruined.

“This government is sending a very clear message that the control of deforestation will not be like it was in the past …. And when the loggers hear this message that they will no longer be supervised as they were in the past, they penetrate [the rainforest],” Galvão said, claiming “enormous” damage had already been done since Bolsonaro took power in January.

“It is a question of brutal, fast economic exploitation.”

“There is no doubt about it. They have much closer relations with the loggers [than previous governments] … The president has said explicitly that he wants to make deals with American companies to exploit minerals in indigenous reserves,” Galvão said.

Galvão said he hoped the international community would now support “those Brazilians who are struggling against this state of affairs, and force the government to understand that increasing deforestation in the Amazon will only cause harm to Brazil – and to the government itself”.

That seems unlikely. This week, as new Inpe data emerged suggesting an “explosion” of Amazon deforestation in July, Bolsonaro scoffed at his portrayal as Brazil’s “Captain Chainsaw” and mocked Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel for challenging him on the environment.

To hoots of approval from his audience, Bolsonaro declared: “They still haven’t realized Brazil’s under new management.”