Brazil: Bolsonaro smear prompts environment agency chief resignation | News | DW | 07.01.2019
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Brazil: Bolsonaro smear prompts environment agency chief resignation

Suely Araujo accused far-right President Jair Bolsonaro of making "baseless accusations" about the agency's budget. Bolsonaro wrote in a tweet that the environmental agency "financially violated" Brazilians.

The head of Brazil's environment agency has quit following the latest attack against the agency by far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. Suely Araujo resigned from IBAMA after Bolsonaro republished a tweet from his environmental minister criticizing the agency's decision to spend more than 28 million reais ($7.7 million, €6.7 million) on rental patrol trucks.

Suely Araujo (Agência Brasil/F. Rodrigues Pozzebom)

Araujo has dismissed what she said were 'baseless allegations' about irregularities

"We've had a system created mainly to financially violate Brazilians without the slightest care," Bolsonaro wrote in the tweet.

Read more: Jair Bolsonaro's stance on indigenous people is 'discriminatory and racist'

Araujo, who took over at IBAMA in June 2016, dismissed what she said were "baseless allegations" about irregularities in IBAMA's budget. She said the money covered the lease of 393 SUVs that were required for patrolling forests, fighting fires and conducting technical examinations across the entire country.

The Environment Ministry said it had wanted to replace Araujo before her resignation. A successor would be announced it the next few days, it added.

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Amazon fears

Bolsonaro's election has raised fears about a higher rate of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. As a candidate, he regularly attacked IBAMA and threatened to restrict the agency's ability to fine companies that contravene environmental rules.

Powerful agricultural and mining businesses interested in reclaiming Amazon land back the far-right leader, who has hinted that he may also pull Brazil out of the 2015 Paris climate deal.

Scientists say retaining the Amazon, where deforestation hit a ten-year high in 2018, is crucial if the world is to keep global warming below the deal's two-degrees Celsius target by the end of the century.

amp/rt (AFP, Reuters)

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