The Brazilian vice president told Lusa on Tuesday that he took foreign diplomats to fly over the Amazon to show that 84% of the forest is preserved, but the regions most affected by the fire were avoided.
On a three-day trip to the Brazilian Amazon, organized by the Government of the President, Jair Bolsonaro, and started on Wednesday, diplomats and ambassadors from various countries, including Portugal, flew over some areas of the forest and, in the coming days, will visit cities of the state of Amazonas.
“They will see what we say all the time, that 84% of the Amazon continues to maintain its original coverage (…). The size of the Amazon does not allow us to go down to Lábrea (one of the municipalities most affected by fire this year) and say that the city is not preserved. There is no way to cover this whole area on a trip of this nature. It would take two weeks for this, ”General Hamilton Mourão told Lusa, questioned about the limitation of showing diplomats only a selected part of the forest.
“We tried to pass in an area of the state of Pará where there has been a deforested area since the 1970s and then to pass in the Manaus region, where they had a ‘briefing’ about what is happening, in a very clear and transparent way. Still in Manaus, we want you to be able to see the breadth of our rivers, see how environmental illegals are fought, visit a [indigenous] settlement region and go to the deep Amazon, which never appears, and which is within 84% preserved ” , added the Brazilian vice president.
In a press conference, on Tuesday evening, in the city of Manaus, General Mourão pointed out that atmospheric conditions have damaged the mission to fly over some of the areas most affected by fires and illegal logging.
The delegation’s plane left Brasilia towards Serra do Cachimbo, located in the division between the states of Mato Grosso and Pará. From there, the aircraft reduced altitude and tried to fly over part of the BR-163 road, one of the main expansion axes deforestation in the Amazon, but the clouds did not allow good visibility.
Diplomats from South Africa, Germany, Canada, Colombia, Spain, France, Peru, Portugal, United Kingdom and Sweden were part of this mission. The Portuguese side is represented by the person in charge of Business at the Embassy of Portugal in Brasília Sandra Magalhães.
The Brazilian delegation is led by Hamilton Mourão, who heads the National Council of the Legal Amazon, an entity that coordinates several actions aimed at the preservation of what is the largest tropical forest in the world, being accompanied by ministers Ricardo Salles (Environment), Tereza Cristina (Agriculture) and Augusto Heleno (Institutional Security Office).
On the first day of the trip, centered in Manaus, the capital of Amazonas, part of the itinerary was a visit to the zoo of the Brazilian Army’s Jungle War Instruction Center, and to the Amazon Protection System Management and Operational Center (CENSIPAM ), where diplomats were shown data on forest devastation as well as conservation.
However, visits to the municipalities of Apuí and Lábrea, in the south of Amazonas, which concentrate the largest number of fires in the entire state, are not part of the program.
In September, the Brazilian vice president had indicated that he was preparing a diplomatic offensive to respond to Europe on the accusations of destruction of the Amazon.
In October, Bolsonaro said that this trip with diplomats would serve to show that “nothing is burning or even a hectare of devastated jungle”.
“We are finalizing a trip, where we will invite diplomats from other countries to show on that short hour and a half trip that they will see nothing in our Amazon rainforest burning or even a hectare of devastated jungle,” said the Brazilian President, who denies the occasion. environmental destruction in the country.
The trip began to be planned after eight European countries sent a letter to Mourão, in which they stated that the increase in deforestation in the Amazon could make it difficult to import Brazilian products.
Between January and September this year, the Brazilian Amazon recorded 76,030 fires, the highest number since 2010, when 102,409 fires were recorded in the same period, the Brazilian Space Research Institute said last week.
Deforestation of the world’s largest rainforest reached more than seven thousand square kilometers from January to September, an alarming number, despite a 10% drop compared to the same period in 2019, the year in which all records were broken, according to with the same public body.