18 Jun 2024, 08:47

Lula calls for 'agility' in combatting Amazon deforestation crime   

BRASÍLIA, June 18, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called for flexibility and speed in combatting criminal organizations that are deforesting the Amazon, as he signed a measure Monday to expand security in the region.

"Never before in the history of Brazil have people thought of taking such an extraordinary step to tend to the Amazon as now," Lula said as he signed the agreement in Brasilia granting 318 million reals ($58.7 million) to amplify state security there.

The tranche of money is part of a plan that was launched nearly a year ago with a total budget of 1.2 billion reals, which Lula said will require "agility" to succeed.

He additionally warned that if the initiative takes too long to implement, he won't be able to complete it before his mandate runs out at the end of 2026.

The initiative, officially called "Amazon Plan: Security and Sovereignty," is meant to reinforce equipment, such as boats and helicopters, in order to combat criminal organizations that cut down and burn the forest, which covers 6.3 million square kilometers (2.4 million square miles).

The plan also includes installation of an international police cooperation center in the city of Manaus in the heart of the Amazon, to be manned by intelligence officials from the South American countries whose land comprises the Amazon.

Money for the project comes from the Amazon Fund, an internationally financed initiative to protect the rainforest, particularly by Norway and Germany.

Despite recent gains in reducing deforestation, Marina Silva, Brazil's environment minister, warned that the global community still had its work cut out.

"If the world does not do its part by reducing CO2 emissions based on the use of fossil fuels, we will lose the Amazon anyway," Silva said.

Lula has promised to end illegal deforestation in Brazil by 2030.