Brazil’s Environment Minister Ricardo Salles has fired the country’s top environmental enforcement officer after a news program broadcast a dramatic raid on illegal mining in the Amazon (Reuters 1). The move appears to be the latest attempt by the government of President Jair Bolsonaro to undermine the federal environment agency Ibama, which fights against deforestation (Reuters 1). Fantastico, a news program on Brazil’s largest broadcaster Globo, accompanied a team of agents on raids against miners who were illegally working inside indigenous reservations (Reuters 1).
This comes after deforestation rose in March, indicating that illegal loggers and land speculators have not stopped with the onset of the coronavirus outbreak (Reuters 2). Destruction in the Brazilian Amazon rose 30% in March, compared to the same month a year ago, according to the country’s space research agency, INPE (Reuters 2). In the first three months of the year, Amazon deforestation was up 51% from a year ago to 796 square kilometers (307 square miles) (Reuters 2). Currently, some 43,000 military personnel are stationed in the region but with the authorization to act along Brazil’s borders only (Bloomberg).