Bolsonaro’s Environment Minister Under Investigation for Corruption

"Brazil’s Supreme Court granted search warrants for the homes and financial records of Ricardo Salles, who accelerated deforestation during the Covid-19 pandemic."

"Ricardo Salles, Brazil’s environment minister, was frustrated. Not because of record fires and deforestation in the Amazon, but because many of his attempts at deregulation had been thwarted. “Everything we do is shot down by the judiciary the next day,” Salles complained in a video recording of a Cabinet meeting in 2020 that was later made public by the Supreme Court.

However, he also saw a fantastic opportunity in the pandemic that was just taking hold in Brazil. “We have the possibility at this moment that the press attention is exclusively focused almost exclusively on Covid,” he told his colleagues and far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. It was time, he said, to “let the cattle loose and change all the rules and simplify the regulations.”

Over the last year, that is exactly what the Bolsonaro administration has done: kneecapped regulatory bodies, signed wide-ranging executive decrees, drafted new laws, and encouraged illegal miners, ranchers, and loggers to be even bolder in their race to strip the Amazon of its resources. These policies have been catastrophic for the hundreds of thousands of Indigenous Brazilians who live on federally protected lands that are increasingly under attack by bands of heavily armed criminals with ties to powerful elites. Many scientists believe that the Amazon is dangerously close to reaching a level of deforestation that would provoke a rapid and irreversible collapse of the region’s complex ecosystem, with wide-ranging implications for the continent and the globe."

Andrew Fishman reports for The Intercept May 27 2021.

Source: The Intercept, 05/31/2021