Brazilian parliamentarians denounce gov’t absence in combating wildfires in the Pantanal region

If the Jair Bolsonaro government doesn’t act, “we will have to see if the rain puts out the fires,” says lawmaker

September 21, 2020 by Brasil de Fato
Congressmen Paulo Teixeira and Nilto Tatoo, were part of the oversight delegation led by congresswoman Rosa Neide. Photo: Lula Marques

After a visit to the Pantanal wetlands, an ecosystem located in the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, a congressional oversight delegation testified at the Supreme Court on Saturday, September 19, highlighting the “notable absence” of the Federal government in efforts to combat wildfires in the region.

“We would like to ask for help from the Federal government to end the fires, allow for the ecosystem to recover and create a preventive strategy,” stated opposition congressman Paulo Teixeira, who was part of the delegation. According to the lawmaker, if the Jair Bolsonaro government does not act to stop the massive wildfires that are engulfing the region, “unfortunately, we will have to see if the rain puts them out.”

The delegation’s objective was to meet with firefighters, local administrators and organizations to try and find solutions to the calamity which the Pantanal faces.

In an interview with Brasil de Fato, Paulo Teixeira says that the situation in the region is one of contrast between the actions of local firefighters and those of the Jair Bolsonaro government.

“There is courageous and heroic mobilization on the part of firefighters, local authorities as well as volunteers, but a notable absence of the Federal government. They have sent money, now they need to send the Air Force, Army brigades, and actual people. The first thing we noticed was how much was lacking,” affirmed Teixeira.

Around 90% of the Encontro das Águas park, which has the world’s largest jaguar population, has already been destroyed. “Beyond vegetation, there is an important loss of fauna. Many animals have been injured,” lamented the congressman.

This year alone, 20% of the ecosystem has already been destroyed, in large part due to the most recent wildfires. This translates to 2.3 million hectares of land. Data from the National Institute of Space Research (Inpe), shows that the state of Mato Grosso has already registered 32 thousand wildfire hot spots, the largest quantity in ten years.

“The state of Mato Grosso is going through a severe state of emergency, calamity and destruction as a result of the successive fires. The Federal government is being negligent and not mobilizing troops to assist in fighting the blazes,” said congresswoman Rosa Neide, who led the delegation.

Apart from the hearing at the Supreme Court, on Monday, September 21, the parliamentarians also announced the creation of a special congressional commission to further investigate the matter.

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