Brazilian Judge Cancels Mining Decree of Amazon Reserve

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Michel Temer

Brazilian President Michel Temer — Wikimedia Commons

A Brazilian judge has suspended with immediate effect a decree that abrogated the status of an immense Amazon nature reserve of the size of Denmark in order to authorize mining. This decree had raised an outcry among many environmental NGOs. Even the Catholic Church had criticized the decision of President Michel Temer, who has been regularly accused of selling off the Amazon rain-forest.

The federal court ruled and put an end to a decree signed in late August by President Michel Temer. The Brazilian court announced an immediate injunction against any administrative measures to abolish the Renca Nature Reserve in the Amazon. This one is of a gigantic size: more than 4 million hectares.

If until now only public companies were allowed to exploit mines, the presidential decree would eventually allow private mining companies to exploit the numerous deposits on this reserve.

This criticized decision could have aggravated the deforestation and the decline of the biodiversity, not to mention the nuisances to the ethnic groups that live on the spot.

President Michel Temer, better known for the anti-corruption investigations targeting him than for his ecological conscience, probably did not appreciate the extent of the outrage that his initiative would provoke. On the social networks, the action of the head of state gave rise to a deluge of commentaries and hashtags. Local associations, environmental organizations, political parties, but also Brazilian and foreign stars had not hesitated to talk on the issue. Among them, the singer Caetano Veloso or the model Gisele Bundchen, very involved in the preservation of the environment, who described the approach as shameful, accusing the government of auctioning the Amazon.

” What a shame ! They are auctioning our Amazon. We can not destroy our protected areas and leave them to private interests,” writes Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen on her Twitter account.

The National Reserve of Copper and Associates (Renca) was created under the dictatorship in 1984, at the time motivated by the economic nationalism of the military regime. The reserve preserved the mineral riches of the country from the voracity of the multinationals. Only a public company dependent on the Ministry of Mines and Energy was authorized to conduct research for mining.

According to environmental experts, this new “gold rush” intended by the President would have had disastrous consequences. Beyond the use of toxic substances that pollute water, such as mercury used to extract gold, the presence of mining industries is accompanied by perverse cascading effects. This is evidenced by the mudslide tragedy of November 2015, following the breakdown of a mining waste dam in the Rio Doce River in Minas Gerais, killing nine people, carrying entire villages and devastating the fauna and flora.