Amazon crisis brings Bolsonaro closer to Trump

Amazon crisis brings Bolsonaro closer to Trump
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro is betting that closer ties with US President Donald Trump will help him deal with the strong global pressure over increasing deforestation and massive wildfires in the Amazon. 
According to the Brazilian government, Bolsonaro’s son, lawmaker Eduardo Bolsonaro – who could become ambassador to the US - and foreign relations minister Ernesto Araújo will in the coming days meet with Trump in the US to discuss the Amazon issue. 
“Never have Brazil and US been so aligned. Coordination with the US president was essential to the defense of Brazilian sovereignty in the Amazon at the G-7 meeting, which demonstrates our increasingly solid relationship of friendship and respect,” the Brazilian leader tweeted.
During his election campaign last year and today as president, Bolsonaro has criticized NGOs and the country's environmental regulations for exaggerating the problems in the Amazon, claiming such a stance is bad for the Brazilian economy, which has been very weak for several years.
The lax environmental stance by Bolsonaro has been strongly criticized in recent weeks by some prominent international leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, who said the Amazon rainforest is a global and not a sovereign issue. To this, Bolsonaro responded that leaders such as Macron should stop trying to boost their own approval ratings by interfering in the domestic affairs of other nations.
The global pressure has however forced the Brazilian government and other South American countries that share the world's largest rainforest to take action.
Approximately 60% of the Amazon is in Brazil and 13% is in Peru, with rest of the region shared by Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Guiana, Suriname and French Guiana.
On September 6, several South American nations will hold a meeting to discuss the creation of a joint policy for the Amazon, which has an extension of around 7mn square kilometers.
The week also saw the Brazilian government authorize the deployment of the army to combat fires in remote areas of the rainforest, marking a change from Bolsonaro's previous denial of the problems in the Amazon.
Difficult access to several parts of the region and the density of the forest will however make it difficult to monitor and stop illegal activities by farmers and ranchers, including unauthorized burning.
Burning is allowed in the Amazon to a limited extent since it is a practice used by farmers to prepare their lands for the next crop.
The government has now prohibited all kinds of burning for the next 60 days. 
The global outcry over the Amazon has begun to create potential economic problems for the business-friendly Bolsonaro administration.
Norway's largest salmon producer, Norway's Mowi, said it plans to halt soybean purchases from Brazil if deforestation in the Amazon does not decrease.
“The treatment of the Amazon is unacceptable. Mowi will have to consider finding other sources for feed raw materials unless the situation improves,” said Mowi’s chief sustainability officer, Catarina Martins. 
“Mowi source from certified suppliers, and can guarantee that our suppliers are not linked to deforestation or human rights violations today. However, it is important that we and everyone else who buys goods from Brazil clearly state that the rainforest must be preserved and that the current situation is unacceptable,” she added. 
VF Corp, a US holding company and owner of apparel and shoe brands like Timberland, Vans and the North Face, said it had suspended the purchase of leather from Brazil until the Amazon situation improves.  
Swiss food giant Nestlé, which buys meat, cocoa, palm oil and soybeans from the Amazon, also reacted.
"We are reviewing our purchase of meat and cocoa from producers based in the [Amazon] region to ensure that it is in line with our responsible supply standard and will take corrective action when necessary," the company said in a statement sent to Brazilian news website UOL.
Nestlé has operated a factory in Brazil for almost a hundred years and said it was "deeply concerned" over the fires in the Amazon.
While trying to deal with the global pressure from the Amazon issue, the Bolsonaro administration has made a policy move that could trigger more international criticism.
According to the minister of institutional security, Augusto Heleno, the government has decided to review all indigenous land demarcations in the country. 
He claimed there is evidence of irregularities in past licensing for the areas in question. Most of the indigenous area are in the Amazon region and these land rights are guaranteed by the constitution. 
"These demarcations deserve to be reviewed since there is evidence from within Funai [the national indian foundation] itself, allegations of fraudulent demarcations for indigenous lands. These are demarcations that were forged and increased by people interested in profiting from it,” said Heleno in a live broadcast on Facebook, late Thursday, which saw the presence of Bolsonaro. 
The president said he would not approve any new indigenous land extensions during his four-year tenure. Bolsonaro began his term in January. 
"Today, 14% of the national territory is already demarcated as indigenous land. If I demarcate more areas it will increase to 20%. The agriculture and livestock will become unfeasible in Brazil,’ said Bolsonaro. 

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