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Article

15 Sep 2021

Author:
The Guardian

Brazil: Despite Bolsonaro’s two-month offensive against illegal gold miners and loggers in the Amazon, activists remain skeptical of the president's position

"‘Everyone’s fleeing’: Brazil cracks down on illegal mining in Amazon – for now", 15 September 2021

...In recent months, however, an unusual calm has descended on Jardim do Ouro after troops rolled into town, as part of a crackdown designed to convince the world that Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil is cleaning up its environmental act.

“Everyone’s fleeing the forest … because the mines have been shut down,” said the Garden of Gold’s former sheriff, now 75, as he surveyed his strangely subdued community through cataract-clouded eyes.

Amid rising global alarm at the climate emergency and the Amazon’s decimation under Brazil’s ultra-conservative president, the army has sprung into action with a two-month offensive against illegal goldminers and loggers. The mission, which began in July and ends this week, has been accompanied by a public relations blitz in which Bolsonaro’s administration claims: “It’s in our nature to preserve”...

Activists are skeptical the clampdown, which comes on the eve of November’s Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, will have any meaningful long-term impact while Bolsonaro remains in power. Deforestation has soared to a 12-year high under a leader who critics claim has emboldened Amazon outlaws with his anti-environmental words and deeds...

Whatever the abiding impact of Brazil’s pre-Cop26 crackdown, it has had a real and immediate effect in Jardim do Ouro, where many illegal miners have been left jobless after their bosses halted operations for fear of their equipment being destroyed...