Why Brazil’s President Is a Dangerous Steward for the Amazon

By Anna Buss for CounterPunch.org on April 23, 2021

Carved out of the rainforest, the Trans-Amazonia Highway is a 2.500 mile-road that connects seven northern states in Brazil. The audacious project was started in 1972 during the country’s Military Dictatorship (1964-1985) with two objectives: development and security of the “unoccupied” region. In order to bring companies and large-scale farmers there, the government offered large portions of land, tax exemption incentives and attractive financing. The move culminated with the expulsion of thousands of small farmers and entire tribes of indigenous peoples, solidifying a long history of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

On April 22, Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro spoke at the U.S. Climate Summit affirming his nation’s commitment “to eliminate illegal deforestation by 2030,” and he “anticipates Brazil’s goal of zero emissions to 2050.” He was one of 40 world leaders present. During his remarks, he also said Brazil is “on the forefront in combating climate change,” and that his administration is “complying with the measures to combat deforestation and preserve the Amazon.”

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