Bolsonaro says he wants to preserve the forest without renouncing its wealth



  |  DR

The President of Brazil reaffirmed today that his Government wants to "preserve the Amazon", but without renouncing its wealth, defending a controversial law that allows the mining and generation of electricity in indigenous reserves.

"We want it to be preserved [the Amazon], but we also want that its goods do not remain there, simply hidden, forever. We want a more and more Brazilian Amazon", declared Jair Bolsonaro, in Brasília, on the occasion of the creation of the National Council of the Amazon.

The head of state hopes that this council will be the answer for those who criticize him for his environmental policy, especially after the devastating fires in this forest last year, which in August were the worst of the decade, as well as the alarming data on the biome's deforestation.

The Brazilian Amazonian lost 9,762 square kilometers of its vegetation cover between August 2018 and July 2019, the worst data recorded since 2008. The destruction of the forest was 29.5% higher than in the same period of last year.

At the head of the National Council of the Amazon will be the Brazilian vice president, Hamilton Mourão.

The new organization aims to develop initiatives for the protection and sustainable development of the largest tropical forest on the planet.

In his speech, Bolsonaro took the opportunity to defend a bill - already in the Congress for analysis -, which sets specific conditions to regulate the exploitation of mineral resources, oil and gas, as well as the construction of hydroelectric plants on indigenous lands.

"It is a bill that depends on parliament [and which allows] our indigenous brothers to be able, if they wish, to do in their lands everything their non-indigenous colleagues do by their side", said the head of Brazilian state.

However, according to the bill sent to the Brazilian Congress, indigenous people can vet the authorization for artisanal mining on their lands, but they can't vet other activities or projects (they will only be heard about these), thus having no power to prevent the concession of works and the realization of ventures.

Bolsonaro said he wanted to make it "very clear" that "nobody is against the protection and the land of the indigenous brothers", but he considered that the policy of demarcating reserves was abusive because 14% of the Brazilian territory is currently protected.

"The Amazonia really belongs to us," he said, to claim Brazil's sovereignty over "that richest piece of land, not only in Brazil, but in the whole world".

Bolsonaro was accused of racism last month by different organizations, regarding statements he made.

"The Indians are increasingly becoming human beings like us. So, we are going to make the Indians integrate into society and really own their indigenous land", declared the President of Brazil in January.

Regarding the criticisms of environmentalists who are against the Brazilian Government's plans for the region, because they understand that such plans will destroy the Amazon, Bolsonaro said that his desire is to confine "the environmentalists" in the Amazon, so they do not "hinder" the inhabitants of that region.

At the launching ceremony for the National Council of Amazonia, the vice president said he was proud to be part of a government that has "the courage" to assume "publicly and institutionally the task of protecting, preserving and developing the Brazilian Amazon".

The Amazon is the largest tropical forest in the world and has the highest biodiversity in the planet.

It has about 5.5 million square kilometers and includes territories of Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana (which belongs to France).