Demoted Amazon police chief starts singing about saving rainforest



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BRASILIA, Nov. 4 (Reuters) – Alexandre Saraiva, police chief in Brazil’s Amazon region for a decade, was released in January, a day after leading the country’s largest illegal timber seizure which he says destroys the world’s largest rainforest.

Sent to a post lost by the government of President Jair Bolsonaro, Saraiva turned to songwriting to urge wealthy countries to stop buying illegally harvested Amazon hardwood.

In a duet with a singer known as Esther, he levels his charges in “SOS AMAZONE“, with words from Cristina Saraiva. It was posted on social media as nations gather at the United Nations Climate Summit (COP26) in Glasgow.

“The Earth bleeds and burns. Fire flies and kills. I can’t lie and rest. I can’t stand still,” he sings in a clip as footage shows piles of logs in the glades ready to ship to Amazon tributaries of the river.

It also shows former Brazilian Environment Minister Ricardo Salles, who resigned in June as part of a criminal investigation to determine whether he obstructed a federal police investigation into illegal logging.

Saraiva was relegated at a police station several thousand kilometers from the Amazon after calling for an investigation into Salles’ role in the illegal timber trade.

Saraiva calls for tougher EU regulations

on the entry of illegal timber and better control. He estimated that 90% of export papers are forged to hide their origin.

The EU is the main buyer of illegal timber from the Amazon due to lenient enforcement, prompting dangerous criminal organizations to exploit a market estimated by Interpol at $ 152 billion a year, he said.

“With political will, it is possible to end deforestation in the Amazon in six months,” he told Reuters.

Environmental agencies also need to be strengthened after Bolsonaro funded them with the aim of increasing mining and commercial agriculture in the Amazon region, Saraiva added.

“The Amazon is ours, Brazilian,” he said, repeating Bolsonaro’s frequent defense of national sovereignty by rejecting European criticism of his environmental policies.

“But the obligation to preserve the Amazon is also ours.” Saraiva added. “And the international community must do its part and stop acquiring illegal Brazilian timber.”

Reporting by Anthony Boadle and Sebastian Rocandio for Reuters TV; Editing by Brad Haynes and Richard Chang

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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