Hands off the Amazon, Brazil tells environmentalists
Brazilian Defence minister Nelson Jobim stated that the Amazon sovereignty is non negotiable and rejected recommendations from a United Nations panel that last week shared with former US Vice president Al Gore the Nobel Peace Prize and suggested the creation of an international treaty to guarantee the protection of the vast rain forest in South America.
"It's difficult to receive recommendations from India or Europe", said Jobim who added "remember that they destroyed all they had. We're going to look after the Amazon because it's our business. Brazilians know how to look after what belongs to them". The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC has as Chairman Rajendra Pachuari from India. IPCC and Gore were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their commitment with the environment. "I'm not going to say what the Brazilian government should do, but rainforests such as the Amazon are the world's largest natural resources for catching carbon from the atmosphere. In the future we should have clear policies and an international agreement to guarantee that forestry protection and conservation increases globally", Pachauri was quoted last week following the announcement of the Peace Prize award. However Jobim who is touring military garrisons along the border with Colombia admitted that the Brazilian Amazon is the world's largest rainforest with a significant influence on global climate changes. Brazil's Environment Minister Marina Silva also rebuked Pachauri's remarks regarding bio-fuels production and its possible impact on the prices of food at a global scale. Brazil has had for decades a policy of mixing fuel with ethanol made from sugar cane thus helping to cut the energy bill and earlier this year Brazilian president Lula da Silva and US president George Bush launched a program to promote plantations for the production of so called "clean" fuels. Brazil and the US have jointly promoted the program in Central America and later this month during Lula da Silva's visit to Africa, bio-fuels figures top of the agenda. Minister Silva in an interview with the influential Estado de Sao Paulo said Brazil has 300 million hectares of farmland and the production of sugar cane and soybeans to convert into ethanol or bio-diesel "will not have an impact on the cost of food". The Brazilian Armed Forces also got involved in the dispute when General Jose Benedito de Barros Moreira claimed that some NGO which are active in the Amazon are "conspiring against the development of the country". Brazil must be alert since "some NGO are paid to delay the development of Brazil", said one of the few four stars General of the Army and who was head of the Joint Staff War School, the Brazilian Armed Forces think-tank. Brazilian Armed Forces have been repeatedly questioned by the UN for impeding NGO acting in the Amazon area and for denying land to aboriginal tribes, supposedly because they have gold and diamonds deposits. The military argue it's not in the country's interest to hand out vast patches of land along border areas. But in spite of the exchange with environmentalists President Lula da Silva congratulated Al Gore and the IPCC for having been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and underlined the urgency of fighting the global challenge of climate change, "essential to ensure world peace".