The Brazilian government suspended on Monday the seven authorizations it had granted for mining companies to explore possible mines or gold veins in a region of the Amazon jungle, highly preserved, and close to the border with Colombia and Venezuela.
The Government of the President Jair Bolsonaro, who defends mining exploitation even in indigenous reserves in the Amazon, decided to suspend licenses granted after the rejection of the regulatory bodies themselves and harsh criticism from environmentalists.
The cancellation of the permits is provided for in a decree published this Monday in the Official diary and which bears the signature of the chief minister of the Institutional Security Cabinet of the Presidency, Augusto Heleno Ribeiro, a reserve general who has become one of the main collaborators of the leader of the Brazilian extreme right.
The authorizations were granted a few weeks ago by Ribeiro himself, despite the fact that his Cabinet is responsible for security matters of the Presidency and is not related to the Mines and Energy area, and They generated intense controversy because they allow the search for minerals in one of the most preserved areas of the Amazon.
Ribeiro signed the two decrees, both the one that authorized mining exploration and the one that suspended the permits, in his capacity as executive secretary of the National Defense Council, a body that advises the Presidency on matters of sovereignty and defense.
The seven authorizations granted mining companies rights to search for gold in different areas of interest in the region known as Puppy Head, in the jurisdiction of Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira, municipality of the state of Amazons which has some of the best preserved jungle areas in the country.
The areas of interest of the miners are also close to the borders of Brazil with Colombia and Venezuela and to important indigenous and environmental reserves.
Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira It is considered one of the most important municipalities for indigenous people in the country because it has reserves of 23 different ethnicities.
In the decree published this Monday, Ribeiro acknowledged that the authorizations he granted were questioned not only for the National Indian Foundation (funai) and the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) –both state– but also by the National Mining Agency (NOTE), sector regulator.
The Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation to analyze the origin and legality of the authorization granted by Ribeiro in light of the environmental risks generated by the measures.
According to press reports, the prosecutors who requested the opening of the investigation suspect that the authorizations seek to prepare the ground to allow mining in indigenous reserves in the Amazon, a campaign promise from Bolsonaro.
Brazil was one of the most questioned countries in the climate change conference COP26 due to the lack of control in the destruction of the Amazon, something that has also led some European countries to threaten to veto the ratification of the free trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur.
Deforestation in the Amazon reached record levels in the Bolsonaro government and reached 13,235 square kilometers between August 2020 and July 2021, the largest degraded area for a 12-month period in the last 15 years.