Humans set fire to the Amazon. As it continues to burn, leaked documents now reveal that Brazil’s government knew they were going to do it—and did nothing about it.
Under the leadership of President Jair Bolsonaro, the Brazilian government reportedly had been told that a group of farmers, ranchers, miners, loggers, and land grabbers planned to burn down a swath of the world’s largest rain forest. According to local news outlet Globo Rural (and as tweeted by investigative reporter Glenn Greenwald), the group told the federal government in advance of lighting the match, hoping that Bolsonaro’s government would forgive the hefty fines that normally accompany environmental crimes. After being informed of the impending inferno, the government did nothing. Now the Amazon is burning. If true, Bolsonaro’s decision to stand by and allow a group to burn the rain forest is tantamount to ecocide.
This report seems to confirm what other leaked documents have shown: that Bolsonaro planned to “fight off international pressure” to protect the rain forest and open it up to development.
Those plans, leaked to political website openDemocracy, showed a strategic occupation of the Amazon region by the Brazilian government to prevent conservation projects from gaining a foothold in the rain forest. They featured a PowerPoint presentation detailing projects for the region, including construction of a hydroelectric plant, a bridge, and a highway in the jungle. “Development projects must be implemented on the Amazon basin to integrate it into the rest of the national territory in order to fight off international pressure for the implementation of the so-called ‘Triple A’ [conservation] project,” one slide reads, according to openDemocracy.
The Triple A project is a conservation effort led by a nonprofit called Gaia Amazonas, in collaboration with NGOs and international governments that, the Independent reports, would create “the world’s largest protected area, a corridor of rainforest 135 million hectares long stretching from the Andes mountain range to the Amazon and Atlantic ocean.” The protected area would throw a wrench in Bolsonaro’s plans to develop the Amazon.