The Amazon Undone: Deforesters Are Plundering the Amazon and Brazil Is Letting Them Get away with It
ENVIRONMENT, 5 Sep 2022
A Failure of Enforcement
A series revealing how crime, corruption and greed are speeding the destruction of the world’s largest rainforest.
30 Aug 2022 – Daniel Valle sped down Highway 317, closing in on the first targets of the day. He was in a hurry. Deforestation alerts had tripled in recent weeks. Police were warning that armed criminal groups had invaded new territory. Another season of destroying the Amazon rainforest was here, and in this corner, the only check on the looming ecological disaster was this: Valle’s small team of inspectors in a dirt-splattered pickup truck.
“This is it,” said Valle, 39, pulling off the highway. A roving state environmental inspector, he traveled throughout this remote land that was increasingly under threat from a wave of destruction that had leveled the forests to the east. His job was to slow its advance. The challenge felt futile most days. But especially today.
His crew was in southern Acre, where the federal government under President Jair Bolsonaro — a longtime critic of environmental regulation — no longer staffed a single inspector. That meant his state agency, the Acre Environmental Institute, now bore the burden of enforcing environmental law in this area of more than 3,600 square miles along the border with Bolivia.
Valle pulled out his target list. The map showed 16 points of illegal devastation — pinpricks of red piercing an expanse of green and brown.
He sighed. This was enough work for two weeks. Not the two days they’d been given.
“We don’t have enough people,” Valle said.
This mismatch — too few inspectors for too much deforestation — is one of a cascading series of shortfalls and failures that are enabling criminals to raze the world’s largest rainforest with impunity. Law enforcement misses the majority of deforestation in the Amazon. The fines that the few state and federal inspectors here write are seldom paid. The occasional cases that spill into the criminal justice system languish for years. And in the rare instance of a criminal conviction, it almost never draws a prison sentence, The Washington Post found in a review of a year’s worth of cases.
More in this series:
- We traveled deep into the Amazon to investigate deforestation. A grisly discovery awaited us.
- How Americans’ love of beef is helping destroy the Amazon rainforest
- He’s been called a deforester and killer. Now he’s called mayor
- How deforestation is pushing the Amazon toward a tipping point
Tags: Amazon, Amazonia, BRICS, Bolsonaro, Brasil, Brazil, Casino Capitalism, Catastrophe Capitalism, Cattle and Ranch Farmers, Corruption, Deforestation, Disaster Capitalism, Ecology, Elites, Environment, Finance, Greed, Latin America Caribbean, Nature, Organized crime, Predatory Capitalism, Profits, Rain Forests
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