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  • A burning tract of Amazon jungle is pictured in Porto Velho, Brazil August 25, 2019.

    A burning tract of Amazon jungle is pictured in Porto Velho, Brazil August 25, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 27 August 2019

Brazil's Justice Ministry ignored requests from the authorities of the State of Para who asked for help to prevent fires.

On August 7, three days before fires in the Novo Progresso region became uncontrollable, the Federal Prosecutor's Office of the State of Para warned the Environmental Institute of Brazil (Ibama) that rich landlords were going to perform "A Day of Fire", an environmentally dangerous event without any by control  by the Justice Ministry, which is headed by Sergio Moro, the former judge involved in the political imprisonment of the Workers' Party leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

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According to an investigation carried out by the Brazilian General Prosecutor's Office, at least US$4.8 million would be involved in recent episodes of deforestation at the Amazon and Pantanal, where fires have been most intense in the last five years.

"There are suspicions of orchestrated actions which have long been prepared to achieve this result," Attorney General Raquel Dodge said when she met with a prosecutors' task force in Brazilia, which was summoned to investigate crimes in the Amazon.

The Federal Ministry is also investigating the "Day of Fire", an event organized by landowners and land traders whose purpose was to "clean the forests" in order to plant pastures later.

According to a journalistic investigation carried out by the Brazilian mainstream outlet Globo Rural, which accessed official documents on the Amazon environmental disaster, the "Day of Fire" in Para was executed by about 70 people who coordinated with each other to produce fires.

"Their objective was to clear an area of ​​the BR-163 highway to show, on August 10, President Jair Bolsonaro that they support his plans to relax the Ibama's environmental monitoring actions," El Pais explained.

"In Para, warnings about the Day of Fire's risks came out of the very Federal Public Ministry... Attorney Paulo de Tarso Moreira told Ibama about the criminal plans. Days later, however, Ibama answered that it could not act due to the lack of follow-up by the Para's Military Police and because the National Security Force, which was under the command of Justice Minister Sergio Moro, had ignored its requests for support."

The prosecutor explained that the deforestation of large areas of Amazonian forest is a frequent practice of organized criminal groups which facilitate the accumulation of capital for landowners.

"The illegal deforestation of large areas of land is carried out by agents of organized crime even for capitalization," the prosecutor said.

“Burning is a reflection of the increase in deforestation. Burning increases because the agricultural frontier is expanding.”​​​​​​​

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