August 23rd, 2019.
Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is considering legalizing mining and prospecting in the Amazon region, in order to fight illegal mining activities. Recent fires in the Amazon have also exposed Brazil’s environmental crisis, with images taken by NASA satellites being shown all over the world and drawing criticism from world leaders. Such fires are not restricted to Brazilian territory; French president Emmanuel Macron has requested an emergency G7 meeting to address the spread of such fires to neighboring countries, such as Peru, Paraguay, and Bolivia. Brazil has officially abandoned its role in the United Nations peacekeeping forces in Lebanon, after president Bolsonaro declared he is considering designating Islamist group Hezbollah a terrorist group. Finally, the head of United States’ Southern Command has declared his country is already preparing for the day after Nicolás Maduro’s ousting from the Venezuelan government.
Take a look at our highlights.
Amazon out of control: illegal mining extracts 30 tons of gold each year
The recent fires in the Amazon are not the sole concern of Jair Bolsonaro’s government with the region. The president has said more than once that he wants to legalize mining and prospecting in the area, including in lands owned by indigenous people. The government is setting up a bill which will be presented to Congress in the next months. The debate is urgent, since illegal mining in the region is responsible for extracting up to 30 tons of gold per year, generating financial resources six times larger than those obtained legally.
How fire in the Amazon exposes Brazil’s environmental crisis
Forest fires in the Amazon are the most evident disaster of a crisis which has been delineating itself on the horizon of Jair Bolsonaro’s government: the environmental one. The fire, which burns the vegetation, and whose smoke is spreading throughout the country (its images have even been registered by NASA) has catapulted the environmental debate in Brazil to a different level. And it went from exposing government mistakes concerning the misuse of funds received from other countries to trade relations with them, Brazilian sovereignty in the region, as well as the work of non-government organizations.
Not just Brazil: fires are spreading all over South America
Forest fires which have been spreading all over the Amazon region have been attracting worldwide attention this week, and sparked criticism against Brazil’s government. French president Emmanuel Macron has requested an emergency G7 meeting to address forest fires, and UN general secretary António Guterres has also protested: “The Amazon should be protected,” he said. Germany and Norway have already suspended funds destined to environmental preservation plans. Fires have also been affecting neighboring countries, such as Bolivia, Paraguay, and Peru.
Brazil will abandon Lebanon peacekeeping forces
Brazil will abandon its role in the United Nations Interim Lebanon peacekeeping forces (UNIFIL) in Southern Lebanon, according to Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo. UNIFIL forces have been monitoring Israeli-Lebanese borders, and Brazil has deployed 223 members of its military since 2011 to control the border. According to the newspaper, the recent decision made by president Jair Bolsonaro’s government to include Hezbollah on the list of terrorist organizations would influence budgetary cuts.
Southern Command head says that the US is planning the ‘day after’ Maduro
United States Southern Command head, admiral Craig Faller, has stated on Thursday that his country’s only military concern about Venezuela’s situation concerns the planning of what he called dictator Nicolás Maduro’s “day after”, according to EFE news agency. At a press conference in Natal, in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Norte, Faller denied that the US is planning any military intervention in Venezuela, and said that their intention is merely to support a democratic transition after Maduro’s regime.