Brazilian vice president refutes criticism over newly-created Amazon council

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourao on Thursday rejected the criticism the government has received over the creation of the new National Amazon Council, saying “no one loses power” though they are not part of the council.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro signed a decree to create the new council on Tuesday, which will be under the supervision of the office of the vice president and will be in charge of organising inter-ministerial actions for the “protection, defense and sustainable development” of the Amazon Rainforest region.

There used to be an Amazon Council created in 1995. It was attached to the Environment Ministry and formed by several government offices, as well as governors from the states in the Amazon Rainforest region: Acre, Amapa, Amazonas, Para, Rondonia, Roraima, and Tocantins, in the northern region; Mato Grosso, in the midwestern region; and Maranhao, in the northeastern region.

With the newly-signed decree, the new council does not have the participation of the governors of these states and consists only of 14 cabinet members, leading to criticism from both local administrations and environmental organisations.

These bodies voiced that the government is centralising issues related to the Amazon region and alienating state administrations which can give a local perspective to those matters.