A fire in the Amazon.Andre Penner / AP
"The jungle unites us," tweeted Vice President Hamilton Mourão this Saturday, when the Amazon Day was celebrated in Brazil.
But his words do not fit with reality and less at a time when a battle begins against the government's management in the region.
Since May, Mourão himself has directed the Verde Brasil operation in the Amazon, with the support of the Armed Forces, to curb arson and environmental crimes in general.
But the Green Party (PV) questioned the legality of the military's action in the Supreme Federal Court on August 30, in light of the increase in deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.
The PV raises the suspicion that the Government may have agents who inform deforesters about ongoing inspection operations.
The petition demands that the normative acts of the Army be suspended, which, in practice, means paralyzing the Verde Brasil operation, withdrawing military personnel from the Amazon.
Last Thursday, the Supreme Minister Carmen Lúcia requested "with urgency and priority" information from President Jair Bolsonaro and the Minister of Defense on the questioned legal provisions that must be presented in five days.
The Minister of the Institutional Security Cabinet, General Augusto Heleno, expressed her annoyance on Twitter and rekindled the public friction of the members of the Executive with the Supreme Court: “Judge Carmen Lúcia has accepted the action of a political party and has determined that the President and the Ministry give explanations on the use of the Armed Forces in the Amazon.
Forgive me, dear magistrate, if you knew that area, you know what your question would be: 'What would the Amazon be without the Armed Forces?
Vice President Mourão has already expressed himself on this matter in an interview with the newspaper
O Estado de S. Paulo
, where he said that the magistrate's request "is another political use of the Supreme Court."
Heleno's provocative tweet polarized social networks, after an apparent truce by the Executive with the other powers.
The battlefield over management in the Amazon, a 4.2 million square kilometer biome, takes on new shades every day under the Bolsonaro Administration.
Under permanent international criticism of his environmental policy - and the threat that investments in the country would be reduced for that reason - Bolsonaro put the vice president in charge of protecting the jungle, especially after the August 2019 fires. There, the first Operation Brazil was born, which remained for two months, from August to September, in the region to control the sources of fires and environmental crimes.
But deforestation has not been reduced in 2020 and, in April, alerts for arson fires and deforestation in the Amazon legally grew by 63.7%, prompting the Government to enact a Law and Order guarantee, which allows the use of the Armed Forces to protect the jungle.
This is how Operation Green Brazil 2 was born, with a cost of 60 million reais (11.3 million dollars), which would last, in principle, two months.
Although environmentalists recognized the government's effort to arrive before there was a new wave of fires in the second half of the year, the plan was viewed with distrust due to the high cost - greater than the annual budget of the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and the Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), responsible for monitoring and reducing deforestation until then - and the lack of joint coordination.
Mourão reinforces that the action is aimed at providing support to inspection bodies, such as Ibama itself and the Chico Mendes Institute.
"It is a logistical and security support for the two institutions, which do not have the legs to carry out their tasks in the Amazon," he told
O Estado de S. Paulo
Those on the ground welcome the position of the vice president, but there are still noises and disagreements in an area that is extremely sensitive for Brazilians and the world that is fighting against global warming and depends on the conservation of forests such as the Amazon .
“We want and need to work with the [Armed] Forces.
But each one has to enter with their specialization.
The Army's specialization is logistics, operational risk.
We have experience in setting up operations and actions against environmental criminals, ”an inspector told EL PAÍS who has been working at Ibama for more than ten years and prefers to remain anonymous.
Mourão also intoned the
in his interview when he said that the government made a mistake in leaving the jungle in September at the end of the first Operation Brazil.
"If we had stayed on the field from last year, we could present better numbers," he said.
Between May and August, the number of arsons was practically the same as in the same period of 2019, although in August there was a reduction of 5%.
But this year, the fires have reached the Pantanal biome, in the central west of the country, a region dependent on the Amazon.
The convergences, however, vanish when, on one side, the government is under pressure and, on the other, the environmentalists who are run over.
In the PV petition to the Supreme Court, the party mentions reports from inspectors that reveal the lack of collaboration.
"They created an operation that contributes to dismantle the Brazilian environmental policy," argues the PV, which also mentions an action by Ibama on August 6 that was leaked to those who would be the object of the inspection.
The Federal Police had been monitoring an illegal mining operation in the state of Pará for weeks, but then a military man prohibited them from continuing.
“An audio was released that had been sent to the WhatsApp group
Los garimpeiros are not criminals
, which warned that there would be Ibama agents on August 6 in the region.
The author of the audio was identified and confirmed that the information had been transmitted by a federal government official, ”the petition cites.
The WhatsApp alert was made by Josias, an urbanized indigenous person, favorable to illegal mining, who is in contact with "a person" from the Government, as he himself admits in a report.
Indigenous people like him are those who mention Mourão or Bolsonaro when they talk about the Amazon and the construction of a chain of economic activity in the region.
“We have to understand the needs of the indigenous community.
They cannot remain segregated, cut off from the 21st century.
They need to have their own income, they cannot live on handouts from the State, ”said the vice president.
But the reading does not take into account the different stages of integration of indigenous people in a country with more than 300 different peoples, including isolated ones and others who refuse to get involved in other cultures, because they understand that the jungle is their way of life and they respect their ancestors, who have survived in the Amazon since before Brazil was discovered in 1500. An issue on which the Bolsonaro government is in a hurry, without looking for bridges for a more mature debate.