Brazil’s Rain-forest Hangs On Election

The growl of a chainsaw and the howl of a straining tractor engine were enough to draw the environment officials up a rutted track into the forest.

In the clearing at the end of the road, three young loggers silenced their machines and proffered their documents. They were paid in cash, they said – nearly four times the Brazilian minimum monthly salary of £200 ($258) – to ship out up to two truckloads a day of huge hardwood logs.

And like most people in the heavily-deforested Amazon state of Rondônia on Brazil’s western border, they are sure who they will vote for in Sunday’s presidential run-off vote.

“It has to be Bolsonaro. He supports us,” said Edivaldo da Silva, 22.

Polls show that Jair Bolsonaro, the far-right former army captain has 78% support in Rondônia, leaving his leftist rival Fernando Haddad in the dust.

In the Amazon, Bolsonaro has promised progress instead of protection.

And his radical proposals – to neuter federal environment agencies, give the green light to destructive hydro-electric dams, freeze the demarcation of new indigenous reserves and open up existing ones to  – chime with voters here, including those breaking environmental laws.

Loggers, illegal gold miners and squatters on a protected reserve all told the Guardian they are voting for Bolsonaro because they believe he will make their lives easier.

Full story by is featured in the Guardian.

Feature images from Help Save Nature and Greenpeace

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