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  • Truck transports wood extracted from the Amazon rainforest, Porto Velho, Brazil, August 29, 2019.

    Truck transports wood extracted from the Amazon rainforest, Porto Velho, Brazil, August 29, 2019. | Photo: EFE

Published 30 August 2019
Opinion

These Brazilian businessmen also kept modern slaves captive inside their property.

Brazilian police arrested on Thursday two owners of the Ouro Verde farm for burning 5,000 hectares of forest within the Triunfo do Xingu Environmental Protection Area, at the state of Para in the southern part of the Amazon region. Authorities also found workers who remained trapped in their farm in conditions similar to slavery.

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Suspects are expected to respond to charges of environmental damage, pollution, fire and criminal association. According to investigations carried out so far, both landowners paid about 50 people to demolish 20,000 more hectares of forest, which are next to their property.

While this police action alleviates the environmental crisis in the Amazon, the arrest of two landowners is rather an isolated case within a system which does not usually detect or capture those responsible for thousands of fires.

The Amazon Research Institute of the Amazon (Ipam) revealed that most of the 27,000 fire outbreaks recorded in August are related to actions aimed at eliminating forests.

In July, intentional acts of deforestation affected 2,254.8 square kilometers of forest, a figure which represents an increase of 278 percent over the same month of the previous year.

"The attempt to turn the Amazon rainforest into a profit source for agribusiness is directly linked to fires which are out of control in the region." The meme reads, "Trump supporter helps devastate the Amazon. Steve Schwarzman is CEO of a company involved in the destruction."

While the destruction of the Amazon rainforests generated by agribusinesses continues, Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro again minimized the impact of the disaster on Thursday.

"It has been a hectic week, but the average [of fires] this year is not the highest... the jungle as such is difficult to burn because it is wet and high."

In a transmission made through social media networks, the far-right former captain thanked the solidarity expressed by other right-wing presidents who supported him in his decision not to receive European Union support.

"I thank [Chile's president Sebastian] Piñera, Spain, [the U.S. President Donald] Trump for defending Brazil in the G7. The Amazon is very important and, on September 6 in Leticia, Colombia, we will be with presidents of Peru and Ecuador to think and discuss this matter," he said.

According to Bolsonaro, the help offered by France's President Emmanuel Macron "is a handout" that will most likely be used by people working at environmental NGOs, whom the Brazilian president usually refers disparagingly as "oenegeros" and acusses them of "conspiring" against him.

“Brazil is worth much more than US$20 million. Show me a replanted hectare and I know that this money is mostly for the 'oenegeros'. Little is what is intended for reforestation. "

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