Brazil has deployed thousands of soldiers to protect the Amazon rainforest as the Jair Bolsonaro led government mounts an early response to surging deforestation in the nation. Brazil's Vice-President Hamilton Maurao speaking at a news briefing, on May 12, said that the armed forces along with environmental officials, police and government agencies had begun with an operation in the Rondonia state. Last year, a devastating forest fire charred millions of hectares of the Amazon rainforests.
"We don't want to be labelled by the rest of the world as an environmental villain," Mourao added.
Meanwhile, the country Defence minister Fernando Azevedo, revealed that the Brazillian armed forces would establish a base in three ‘Amazon cities’. He added that 3,800 troops have been mobilised, costing an estimated $10 million, against illegal logging and other crimes. The deployment has reportedly been sanctioned by the Brazilain president.
He also said that owing to the current coronavirus pandemic, each base has also been assigned five specialists in chemical warfare to help avoid the spread of novel coronavirus. According to reports, the military is currently deployed for a period of 30 days till June 30 which could be extended as the dry season approaches.
"We have no doubt this problem will continue to exist. 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", he said at the press briefing.
Meanwhile, Maduro remarked that the armed forces will continue to be used until environmental agencies, like the main enforcement agency Ibama, are able to increase their staff. An economic downturn and budget restrictions have prevented Ibama from hiring new agents, international media reported.
With inputs from agencies