Keeping a view to curb the rising deforestation in the Amazon forest, Brazil’s government has started deploying thousands of soldiers to protect the Amazon rainforest on Monday, May 11, 2020.
The Brazilian government, which is facing challenges due to the coronavirus crisis, has stepped up taking such precautions since the country is approaching a dry season, which is also a high season for forest fires and various illegal encroachment activities in the forest.
Military Operations in Amazon
Alongside environmental officials, police, and other government agencies, a combined team of the Brazilian armed forces has begun an operation in a national forest in Rondonia state, near the Bolivian border, the Vice President of Brazil, Hamilton Mourao said at a news conference. Sources said that the Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro has authorized the military deployment three months earlier compared with last year when Amazon fires drew the wide attention of global media.
The country has been facing a major challenge since it was reported that a widespread practice of deforestation has been conducted in the forest over the years. According to the government data released on Friday, deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon increased by 55% in the first four months of the year compared with the same period of 2019.
Citing the destruction of the forest hit an 11-year high last year and international media’s outcry that Brazil was not doing enough to protect the world’s largest rainforest, Mourao said the government took such deployment of military units since “We don’t want to be labeled by the rest of the world as an environmental villain.”
Stationed in Three Bases till June 10
The Brazilian Defense Minister, Fernando Azevedo explained that the armed forces, nearly 3,800 military personnel, would be stationed bases in three Amazon cities, and would conduct a military operation against illegal logging and other crimes in the forest. Citing the initial operational cost of 60 million reais ($10 million), Azevedo said some medical specialists would be assigned in each base to take control of the situation in case the coronavirus spreads.
Mourao explained that the military operation would continue for 30 days, which would end by June 10 and it could be extended if fires break out in the forest during the dry season. Citing the military deployment to assist in fire prevention, he asserted, “We have no doubt this problem will continue to exist,” adding that “We don’t consider this the best job for the armed forces, to be always engaged in this type of action, but unfortunately it’s the means we have to limit these crimes from happening.”
The Vice President further claimed that the armed forces would continue its operations until the key environmental enforcement agency Ibama increased their staff as the agency has been facing the shortage of its crew members due to the virus pandemic. Environment Minister Ricardo Salles, while terming the virus has “aggravated” the situation, said he was confident the government’s actions under Mourao’s direction would help in countering the deforestation problems.
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