RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro announced on Thursday that during his upcoming visit to Japan to attend the G20 summit he will propose to that country’s government the joint exploitation of the Amazonian rainforest’s biodiversity.
“We will travel on Tuesday night to Japan for the G20 meeting and I will have a parallel meeting with the Japanese prime minister, in which I will propose an agreement so that we can, in partnership, exploit the biodiversity of the Amazon region,” Bolsonaro said in a Facebook live stream.
The far-right leader, a former captain in the army deployed in the rainforest, is an advocate for Brazil to harness the rich biodiversity of the Amazonian rainforest to benefit people living in that region.
Bolsonaro was quick to add that his plan does not mean that he is proposing the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, often called the “lungs of the earth.”
“No one wants to destroy the Amazon,” said the Brazilian leader, despite several of the environmental initiatives he announced since taking office on Jan. 1 hampering Brazil’s forest conservation projects.
During the live stream, Bolsonaro reiterated the complaint of old nationalist army officers that claims that Brazil does not protect the world’s largest rainforest come from countries interested in seizing the wealth it offers.
“That Brazil is destroying the Amazon is propaganda against us by foreign groups and some Brazilian traitors who want the Amazon to be internationalized,” he said.
“But rest assured that, as long as I’m president, that won’t happen,” he added.
Bolsonaro had already mentioned the possibility of Brazil partnering with more technologically developed countries to exploit the biodiversity of the Amazonian region during his trip to Israel in April.
“We have a sea of biodiversity and I am willing to sign partnerships and agreements to exploit it. I believe, with all due respect to Australia and other countries, that none of them have as much biodiversity as Brazil. We are ready for new discoveries in that area,” he said.
Despite insisting that Brazil protects the Amazon, environmental organizations operating in the country say that several of the far-right leader’s initiatives facilitate the felling of forests.
According to the data of these organizations, the average area devastated in the Amazon jumped from 10 hectares per hour in May 2018 to 19 hectares per hour in the same month this year.
According to official data, deforestation in the last nine months, from August 2018 to April 2019, expanded to 15,000 hectares, threatening to break a record in the first year of Bolsonaro’s government.
The environmental organizations say that logging increased after the president’s decision to relax environmental audits and to close some environmental agencies.