Brazilian Vice President and leader of Jair Bolsonaro’s newly formed Amazon Council, Hamilton Mourão. The VP has no environmental credentials but served as the military commander over the Amazon region for five years. Image by Gabriel Cruz on flickr. The media portrayal of Brazil’s annual fire season — which in 2020 is trending worse than in 2019 — is “surreal” according to the country’s vice-president, Hamilton Mourão, who spoke during a web seminar on 27 August. Not flames and deforestation, but “development” is the biggest challenge ahead for the Amazon, the VP said then. “The Brazilian state is not present in the Amazon,” the former general told the Wall Street Journal one week later. “That is why illegality thrives.” Yet, an enhanced government presence alone is not a solution, he added. Only viable economic opportunities can end the poverty which, according to the VP, is the root cause of environmental destruction there. Mourão’s contention that “development” will save the rainforest may feel counterintuitive to outsiders and especially conservationists, but his words echo the intertwined policies of national “security and development” which have served as the cornerstones of the Brazilian armed forces’ vision for the Amazon for more than half a century. And his words carry considerable weight: The 67-year-old VP was named head of the Conselho Nacional da Amazônia Legal (the National Council of the Amazon; CNAL) last January. Consisting predominantly of former military officers, this governmental super body is to “coordinate and supervise the implementation of all public policies…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer