Brazil: Rainforest pays the price for the country's crisis
Deforestation has declined but the Amazon remains vulnerable to political change and powerful agricultural lobbies
Joe Leahy and Andres Schipani in Humaitá
Abílio Ikeziri saw the smoke rising over the Amazonian town of Humaitá before he saw the angry mob. Illegal miners were burning the local offices of Ibama, Brazil's environmental agency, in retaliation for the destruction of boats they were using to dredge for gold in the region's rivers.
Mr Ikeziri, a ranger with Brazil's national park agency, feared his office would be next and gave the order to evacuate just as the mob came round the corner. "A man began bashing on our car so I pulled my gun," says Mr Ikeziri. The attacker withdrew and the ranger reached safety but not
before the miners burnt his and Ibama's offices.
Even weeks after the attacks last October, the damage is still starkly apparent. The buildings of both organisations are blackened shells, their vehicles charred wrecks.
Surrounded by forest reserves and near the juncture of two highways, Humaitá is the gateway to Amazonas, a state nearly the size of Alaska that is the heartland of the Brazilian Amazon region. Brazil's so-called arc of deforestation, a front that stretches along the southern fringe of the
Amazon from the coast to Bolivia, cutting Latin America's largest country in half, has so far spared much of Amazonas.
Yet now, due to political uncertainty after the impeachment and ousting of former president Dilma Rousseff in 2016 and with Brazil facing its most unpredictable elections in decades, the Amazon is again looking vulnerable....
(Reportagem completa no pdf)
Financial Times, 16/01/2018.
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