Jul 29, 2019

Jair Bolsonaro's report card on corruption and the environment

Deforestation in the Western Amazon. Photo: Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images

When Jair Bolsonaro was elected Brazil's president 9 months ago yesterday, there were high hopes he'd clean up corruption and revitalize the economy — and fears he'd endanger the environment and further divide the country.

So how's he doing?

On corruption... Bolsonaro's administration, the Economist reports, "looks nearly as scandal-prone as the one it replaced."

  • "One of his sons, Flávio, a senator from Rio de Janeiro, is being investigated for money-laundering. Messages leaked to the Intercept... have damaged the reputation of Sérgio Moro, the justice minister."
  • "Mr Bolsonaro nominated another son, Eduardo, to be Brazil’s ambassador to the United States, adding nepotism to his administration’s list of sins."

On the economy... the FT notes, "Bolsonaro has achieved two of the biggest breakthroughs in Brazilian policymaking in years, with a new EU-Mercosur trade deal and the likely passage of pension reform in the coming months." 

On the environment... Bolsonaro is sticking to his promise to open up the Amazon to new economic ventures, Axios' Ursula Perano writes.

  • The Brazilian part of the rainforest shed 1,330 square miles of forest cover — 39% more than during the same period last year.

On polarization... Bolsonaro campaigned as a culture warrior, lambasting gay rights and the political Left. He's governed that way too.

  • That may rile up the base, but his approval rating is down to 33%.

Go deeper

Bolsonaro demands apology from Macron before accepting $20 million in Amazon aid

France's President Emmanuel Macron and Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro at the G20 Summit in Osaka in June. Photo: Jacques Witt/AFP/Getty Images

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has said he will only accept a $20 million aid package from G7 nations to fight fires in the Amazon rainforest if French President Emmanuel Macron apologizes, according to the AP.

The big picture: Macron and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have traded barbs on Twitter over the fate of the Amazon, which has seen an 84% increase in wildfires this year compared to 2018. Bolsonaro has described the offer of international help as a “colonialist mentality," while Macron has questioned the Brazilian president's commitment to environmentalism. Per the AP, Bolsonaro says Macron must take back some of his comments "and then we can speak."

Go deeperArrowUpdated Aug 27, 2019

Brazil deploys military to fight Amazon fire

A fire burns after spreading onto a farm along a highway in Nova Santa Helena municipality in northern Mato Grosso State, south in the Amazon basin in Brazil, on August 23. Photo: JOAO LAET / Contributor

Brazil prepared for an "unprecedented" operation, deploying 44,000 troops starting Saturday to fight the fires that have blanketed the Amazon region and prompted anti-government protests, as well as global condemnation and widespread concern, reports AP.

Why it matters: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, known as a far-right populist and climate science cynic, authorized use of the national military to battle the blazes on Friday as international pressure mounted. French leader Emmanuel Macron led the charge, threatening to block a European Union trade deal with Brazil had Bolsonaro failed to act, reports the New York Times, adding, "The moves zeroed in on a sensitive spot for Brazil’s pro-business leader: the country’s fragile economy."

Go deeperArrowAug 24, 2019

The Amazon rainforest is being ravaged by wildfires burning at record rates

A darkened skyline in São Paulo, Brazil, Aug. 19. Photo: Andre Lucas/picture alliance via Getty Images

The largest swaths of the Amazon rainforest, located in Brazil and Peru, are burning at the highest rates since records began in 2013 — an increase of 84% compared to the same period last year, according to INPE, Brazil's National Institute for Space Research.

What's happening: On Tuesday, "Inpe registered a new fire roughly every minute" across Brazil, the Wall Street Journal reports. 2019's sharp increase is largely due to illegal loggers "burning newly cleared land for cattle ranching and agricultural use," according to environmental experts.

Go deeperArrowAug 21, 2019