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Government transition: Environment group defends measures to accelerate the fight against illegal deforestation

Deforestation sky-rocketed with Bolsonaro

Credit: Bruno Kelly/Amazônia Real

30 Nov 22

Government transition: Environment group defends measures to accelerate the fight against illegal deforestation

A transition group discussing environmental preservation has pointed to remote surveillance, through the use of satellite images, as a means to speed up the fight against illegal deforestation. The information was given by the former Environment minister, Carlos Minc, one of the members of the group in the team of the president-elect, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT).

According to Jorge Viana, member of the Environment workgroup, the group’s preliminary report should address four main points: emergency measures – which, according to him, “need to be adopted to quickly bring back a positive role for Brazil, to get out of this environmental pariah situation”; budget issue; organizational part of the Ministry of Environment; and revocation of decrees and normative acts – which, according to the group’s assessment, dismantled the “Brazilian state structure to work with the environment”.

Civil society organizations recommend the immediate revocation or revision of at least 400 decrees, ordinances and resolutions of the Bolsonaro Government to reverse the dismantling of socio-environmental and climate policies.

 

 

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Mato Grosso experiences days of terror as the 'soybean route' becomes an anti-democratic powder keg

Anti-democratic right wing protestors burn tires in the highway

Credit: Polícia Rodoviária Federal

28 Nov 22

Mato Grosso experiences days of terror as the ‘soybean route’ becomes an anti-democratic powder keg

Used to export the production of agribusiness in Mato Grosso, BR-163, known as the “soybean route,” has become a “powder keg”. The highway is the most violent stage for protests held this month seeking the support of the Armed Forces to keep Jair Bolsonaro (PL) in the presidency after his defeat to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

The “soy route” is the backbone of grain distribution in the country. The highway passes through towns that are among the largest agricultural producers, such as Sorriso, Lucas do Rio Verde and Nova Mutum. The off-season helps to explain the insistence in blocking the road.

“The paralysis is comfortable for the agribusiness producers because they have already received the inputs and planted the soybeans and corn for the next harvest. Now they will only need BR-163 as of January”, said Vivaldo Lopes, economic consultant for the Mato Grosso Association of Municipalities (AMM).

Despite the cooling off of the interdictions on BR-163, groups of Bolsonaro supporters continue camped out on the side of the road in tents, accentuating a climate of constant tension.

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Congress Environment Committee approves Destruction Package bills

Bill 364 allows the exploitation of predominantly non-forest areas

Credit: Oswaldo Braga de Souza / ISA

24 Nov 22

Congress Environment Committee approves Destruction Package bills

The Environment Commission of the Lower House of Congress approved a “Destruction Package” of bills that weakens environmental protection and may increase illegal deforestation, attending to the interests of the rural caucus. They will now head for vote.

The collegiate approved a bill that amnesties all invasions made in areas called ‘altitude fields’ in the Atlantic Rainforest biome. PL 364 allows the exploitation of predominantly non-forest areas, such as native fields, and amnesty the occupation of these areas carried out before July 22, 2008, the milestone in the Brazilian Forest Code.

With pressure from the Agriculture and Livestock Parliamentary Front (FPA), more radical and comprehensive proposals against conservation were included in the talks or appended to the original project. The approved text is more favorable to deforesters than the original proposal, which proposed changing the Atlantic Forest Law to allow the exploitation of the so-called “altitude fields” within the biome, giving amnesty to the occupation of these areas without temporal restriction.

Besides this proposal, two other PLs were approved by the Commission: PL 2168, which changes the Forest Code to authorize the indiscriminate damming of water courses, and PL 195, which weakens controls over timber transportation. 

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Belo Monte proposes a meager R$ 20,000 in reparations to fishermen in the Xingu

Belo Monte under construction in 2004

Credit: Reproduction

23 Nov 22

Belo Monte proposes a meager R$ 20,000 in reparations to fishermen in the Xingu

Norte Energia, the company responsible for operating the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Plant, in the state of Pará, proposed to pay R$ 20 thousand for each fisherman who can no longer work due to lack of fish in the Xingu River since the beginning of operation of the plant, in 2016.

Hundreds of fishermen gathered on Tuesday (22) in the city of Altamira, Pará, to express dissatisfaction with the proposal. They disagree with the number of people contemplated by the reparation, because, according to them, there are at least 4,000 workers affected by the plant, more than double the almost 2,000 fishermen that Norte Energia proposed to attend.

Belo Monte is a project conceived during the military dictatorship (1964-1985) that was on the agenda of several governments until it was made possible by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff. The first turbines began operating in 2016. The construction resulted in serious environmental and social impacts in the Amazon.

 

Quilombolas and Indigenous Peoples ask the EU for more protection; USA prepares sanctions against Brazilian deforesters

Indigenous leaderships visit Europe to demand aid in the protection of biomes

Credit: Apib

23 Nov 22

Quilombolas and Indigenous Peoples ask the EU for more protection; USA prepares sanctions against Brazilian deforesters

Quilombola [Afro-Brazilian traditional communities] and Indigenous organizations have asked the European Parliament that forest protection should be extended to all Brazilian biomes in the new European Union legislation that regulates imports. It would be possible to increase the level of protection for the Cerrado from 26% to 82%, for the Pantanal from 23% to 42% and for the Caatinga from 10% to 93%.

The National Coordination of Articulation of Rural Black and Quilombola Communities (CONAQ) and the Brazilian Indigenous Peoples Network (Apib) delivered a report demanding the inclusion of a ban on illegal deforestation for all Brazilian biomes as a prerogative for commodity purchases by European countries, in the proposal known as the Forest and Ecosystem-Risk Commodities (FERC) Import Bill, which may have its final text voted in the European Parliament soon.

Meanwhile, the United States should apply penalties to environmental criminals who contribute to the deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon. The initiative would represent a change in the US strategy to fight climate change with more severe actions, such as the application of sanctions based on the Magnitsky Act – which would freeze offenders’ assets and prevent all Americans and companies in the country from dealing with sanctioned individuals or entities.

The international sanctions are a direct consequence of the environmental policies of President Jair Bolsonaro, who has reversed environmental protection measures and pushed for more mining and commercial agriculture in the Amazon, resulting in the highest deforestation spike in Brazil in 15 years.

 

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COP27 approves Loss and Damage Fund, but remains lacking

Lula meets with indigenous leaderships

Credit: Ricardo Stuckert

20 Nov 22

COP27 approves Loss and Damage Fund, but remains lacking

The 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Climate Convention ended early this morning in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

The document with the conclusions of the COP27 creates a specific financial mechanism to compensate poor countries, which are suffering from extreme weather events caused by climate change but have not contributed to its causes. The poorest nations, notably the group of small island countries, have been calling for a Loss and Damage financing mechanism for decades.

However, the usual divisions between rich and poor countries meant that the meeting ended without substantive agreement on what should be the main talking point – how to accelerate cutting greenhouse gas emissions so as to prevent global warming from exceeding 1.5oC this century.

“The creation of a specific fund to compensate poorer nations for losses caused by extreme weather events was a fair advance. But at the same time it is evidence that in some cases the effects of climate change are already irreversible. Therefore, on the whole, the overall outcome of COP27 can be considered disappointing. The final text does not demonstrate the necessary ambition to reach the 1.5 degree target set by the Paris Agreement and the so-called implementation plan is weak and incipient. The greenwashing of countries and companies and the misalignment between science and politics have never been so clear as at this COP”, analyzes Maurício Voivodic, WWF-Brazil’s general director.

“COP27 also disappointed in its treatment of civil society and the absence of a Climate March in the city streets is the greatest evidence of how much the freedom of citizens was curtailed by the Egyptian government”, he adds.

 

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Environment and Indigenous Peoples technical teams for government transition are announced

The government accepted demands from an indigenous people’s organization

Credit: Reproduction

17 Nov 22

Environment and Indigenous Peoples technical teams for government transition are announced

Vice President-elect Geraldo Alckmin (PSB), who is coordinating the government transition, has announced new names for the technical teams, including the Environment and Indigenous Peoples working groups.

In the Environment group is former Minister Marina Silva (Rede), Environment Minister during Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s (PT) government between 2003 and 2008 and was elected for Congress in São Paulo this year. Besides Marina, other former environment ministers were announced to compose the thematic group: Carlos Minc, minister in Lula’s government between 2008 and 2010; and Izabella Teixeira, minister between 2010 and 2016, between Lula’s and Dilma Rousseff’s (PT) governments.

In the group of the Indigenous Peoples, 10 participants were nominated, but, in the following day, APIB, Indigenous People of Brazil Network, demanded the inclusion of five more names, which was promptly accepted. The nominees include Joênia Wapichana, the first indigenous woman to be elected as a congresswoman, and the elected representatives Célia Xakriabá and Sônia Guajajara.

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COP 27: Lula demands resources from rich countries and says fighting the climate crisis will be a priority

Lula said he will try to achieve zero deforestation in Brazil by 2030

Credit: Ricardo Stuckert/PT

16 Nov 22

COP 27: Lula demands resources from rich countries and says fighting the climate crisis will be a priority

The president-elect of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT), said at COP27, the United Nations conference on climate, that he “will spare no effort to achieve zero deforestation in our biomes by 2030. According to him, all environmental crimes will be fought against “relentlessly”.

He also stressed that he intends to rescue alliances with South American and African countries, and officially announced the return of the Amazon Fund, paralyzed since 2019 after the current government modified its structure and management mechanisms.

The president-elect also criticized the lack of funding commitment to climate change and the UN’s limitation in solving climate issues: “In 2009, the countries present at COP 15 in Copenhagen committed to mobilize 100 billion dollars a year, starting in 2020, to help the least developed countries to tackle climate change. This commitment has not been and is not being fulfilled,” he said.

Lula also met with youth, leaders of the black and indigenous movements, and civil society organizations.

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Illegal fishermen attack indigenous boat and threaten to kill Kanamari woman in Javari Valley

Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips were murdered in the same region

Credit: Cícero Pedrosa Neto/ Amazônia Real

16 Nov 22

Illegal fishermen attack indigenous boat and threaten to kill Kanamari woman in Javari Valley

A group of 12 indigenous people (five women, four men and three children) of the Kanamari indigenous people were threatened by three illegal fishermen with guns near the base of the Itacoaí-Ituí Protection Front in the Vale do Javari [Javari Valley] Indigenous Land (Amazonas) on the 9th of this month around 9:30am. A Kanamari woman had a rifle pointed in the direction of her chest by one of the fishermen, who threatened to kill her. Without a weapon, the other indigenous people feared the worst and tried to dissuade him from the crime.

The three fishermen then left, carrying in their boats dozens of tracajás (Amazon turtle) that had been taken from the indigenous land. From a distance they fired five shots at the fuel drums (already empty) of the “canoe” in which the indigenous people were traveling. A second, smaller “canoe” accompanied the attacked boat, bringing the total number of Kanamari people to 30 at the time of the illegal fishermen’s action. The indigenous woman threatened by the illegal fisherman said that the only reason she did not die was because there were several witnesses aboard.

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Anti-environmental caucus grows in Congress and Legal Amazon houses will be dominated by the right after 2023

Queimadas em Novo Progresso (PA)

Crédito: Cícero Pedrosa Neto/Amazônia Real

14 Nov 22

Anti-environmental caucus grows in Congress and Legal Amazon houses will be dominated by the right after 2023

The new Congress is not only further to the right – it has also become more anti-environmental. The Institute for Democracy and Sustainability (IDS) did a survey through its Green Panel that identified the growth of the anti-environmental caucus and the reduction of the environmental caucus. The percentage of mostly anti-environmental federal deputies rose from 37% to 42.6%, while the percentage of green federal deputies fell from 30% to 27%. The Senate loses two votes aligned with environmental issues and decreases its power to avoid setbacks on the agenda.

André Lima, coordinator of the IDS Green Panel evaluates, however, that “there is room to increase adherence to the environmental vote, working on the dialogue with the caucuses”.

In the specific case of the Legal Amazon region, the IDS report assesses that “the voices that will speak on behalf of Amazonian voters have low adhesion to the climate and environmental agendas”.

A survey by Amazônia Real indicates that the nine states in the region will see the advance of anti-environmental and anti-indigenous agendas and that Bolsonarism has been consolidated by the popular vote. In the state houses of the Legal Amazon, the five parties with the most representation, starting in 2023, will be: MDB (29 seats), União Brasil (26), Republicans (24), PL (22).

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Norte Energia promises to compensate Belo Monte communities

Over 4,000 fisherman lost their livelihoods

Credit: Bruno Batista/ VPR

4 Nov 22

Norte Energia promises to compensate Belo Monte communities

The company responsible for the Belo Monte hydroelectrical plant, Norte Energia, will indemnify the fishermen of the Xingu river, as demanded by IBAMA’s, Brazil’s environmental agency, opinion issued four months ago. The company had been disagreeing with the environmental agency and had proposed another solution.

According to IBAMA, Norte Energia has not complied with the conditions established for the issue of the plant’s operation license, such as the adoption of mitigation measures for the effects of damming, reservoir formation and water flow control on the lives of fishermen.

The proposal made by Norte Energia still has no values and contemplates less than half of the amount of fishermen of the Xingu. According to estimates by the Federal Public Ministry in Altamira (PA), there are more than four thousand fishermen impacted. The company, by demanding the presentation of an active fisherman’s card for the payment of the reparation, does not even consider all the impacted people, since many have given up the activity due to the lack of fish in the stretches of the river altered by the plant.

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Petrobras insists on starting exploration in the Amazon coast in 2022

Company is ignoring environmental licensing procedures

Crédito: Airton Morassi/Flickr

3 Nov 22

Petrobras insists on starting exploration in the Amazon coast in 2022

The management of Petrobras, Brazil state-owned oil company, wants to begin exploration along the coast of the state of Amapá this year, even without having fulfilled all the necessary phases for environmental licensing. Environmentalists and federal prosecutors warn that Petrobras has not carried out all the environmental impact studies nor concluded the previous consultations with the various indigenous and riverside communities that could be affected by the operation.

Another decision by the top management at Petrobras also generated resistance from civil society. The board of directors approved the distribution of R$ 43.7 billion in dividends for the third quarter of the year. Unions and representatives of Petrobras workers threaten to go to court to prevent this payment before the beginning of the next government. “Any decision on dividends should be up to the future management of the company, and already considering the guidelines of a new controller,” said the law firm Garcez, which represents oil workers.

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Norway and Germany announce the return of the Amazon Fund with Lula

Dos R$ 3,4 bilhões já doados ao fundo, 94% são provenientes da Noruega

Foto: Felipe Werneck/Ibama

2 Nov 22

Norway and Germany announce the return of the Amazon Fund with Lula

A few hours after the confirmation of the result of the 2nd round of the presidential elections in Brazil, the government of Norway confirmed that it intends to resume the allocation of resources for the Amazon Fund, paralyzed since 2019 due to administrative disagreements with the administration of Jair Bolsonaro.

“We will talk to his [Lula’s] team to prepare the formalities and set up a management structure,” promised Norway’s minister of climate and environment, Espen Barth Eide. “There are significant amounts frozen in a Brazilian account in the Amazon Fund that can be disbursed quickly.”

After Norway, the government of Germany signaled its willingness to unfreeze the financial transfers as of the inauguration of President-elect Lula. Jochen Flasbarth, Secretary of State in the German Ministry for Cooperation and Development, said that the government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz “is ready to re-engage with Brazil together with our Norwegian colleagues in support of the Amazon Fund”.

The resumption of the Amazon Fund will be vital for the Lula government to achieve the promise of zero deforestation in the next decade. In a scenario of severe budget cuts in the environmental area – which have been taking place since the end of Dilma Rousseff’s government, but were intensified under Bolsonaro – the arrival of international resources can close the accounting equation to enable the strengthening of enforcement and monitoring, as well as the incentive for sustainable development projects that favor the standing forest.

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Brazil has the highest increase in gas emissions in almost 20 years

Floods and extreme events where seem around the country in January

Credit: Archive /Agência Brasil

1 Nov 22

Brazil has the highest increase in gas emissions in almost 20 years

The level of greenhouse gas emissions in Brazil had in 2021 the highest increase since 2003, according to the Climate Observatory’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimates System (SEEG). The growth last year reached 12.2% and was driven by deforestation, energy, and agriculture and cattle raising.

This is also the fourth consecutive year that Brazil has recorded an increase in emissions. The table places the country as the fifth largest emitter worldwide, with 4% of the total, behind China (23.7% of the total), the United States (12.9%), India (6.5%), and Russia (4.2%).

According to Tasso Azevedo, coordinator of the SEEG, this ten-year balance shows that Brazil has had a lost decade to control its climate pollution. “Since the regulation of the National Policy on Climate Change, in 2010, we have been slipping. Not only have we failed to reduce our emissions consistently, but we have increased them in recent years, and significantly.

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Zero Deforestation: Lula goes to COP27 and promises to resume Brazil's leadership in the fight against climate crisis

A robust environmental policy was key topic of Lula’s campaign

Credit: Sérgio Vale/Secom/AC

1 Nov 22

Zero Deforestation: Lula goes to COP27 and promises to resume Brazil’s leadership in the fight against climate crisis

The victory speech of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) featured environmental policies and the preservation of the Amazon. The president-elect said that Brazil “is ready to resume its leading role in the fight against the climate crisis” and that the next government will “fight for zero deforestation in the Amazon”.

The preservation of the Amazon is central to the reconstruction of Brazil’s international policy, as well as the country’s image abroad. While receiving the greetings of presidents and prime-ministers, Lula heard about the need for Brazil to restructure its actions to protect the Amazon.

Lula has already accepted the invitation from the Consortium of Governors of the Legal Amazon and will participate in the Sharm El-Sheikh Climate Conference (COP27), in Egypt. He was invited by Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, to participate in the COP. In a statement, the Egyptian leader said he “trusts in Brazil’s ability to play a positive role during the Conference to promote climate action in the international arena”.

In addition, Brazil, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo are in dialogue to create the “Rainforest OPEC”. The 3 countries together are home to 52% of the world’s remaining primary rainforests, crucial to avoid climate catastrophe.

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Brazil elects Lula as its president for the third time ousting Bolsonaro

Lula promissed to end illegal mining in indigenous lands

Credit: Reproduction via O Eco

30 Oct 22

Brazil elects Lula as its president for the third time ousting Bolsonaro

President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) lost the election to Luís Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) by 50.9% to 49.1% of the valid votes. It is the first time that a Brazilian president has failed to win reelection since the end of the military dictatorship.

The former Minister of the Environment, Marina Silva (REDE), who was one of the responsibles for the drop of more than 70% in deforestation in the Amazon during Lula’s administration, is one of the favorites to run the Ministry starting January, 1st.

During the campaign, Lula committed himself to the environmental agenda, to fighting illegal mining on indigenous lands, and to the creation of a Ministry of Indigenous Peoples. Politica por Inteiro listed 401 acts of the Federal Executive Branch between 2019 and 2022 to be repealed or revised in order to reconstitute the Brazilian climate and environmental policies.

 

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In 10 months, Amazon hits annual deforestation record

Deforestation and cattle ranching are among the main vectors of destruction

Credit: Christian Braga/Greenpeace

28 Oct 22

In 10 months, Amazon hits annual deforestation record

The year 2022 has not ended, but the Amazon is already experiencing its most devastating calendar year in records. According to the DETER/INPE system, the accumulated deforestation alerts between January 1st and October 21st is 9,277 km2. With two months until the end of this year, the total area affected by deforestation in 2022 already exceeds the total of the worst year of records so far, 2019, when the alerts totaled 9,178 km2.

Marcio Astrini, executive secretary of the Climate Observatory, says that deforestation in the Amazon is out of control and the scenario for the environmental crime “has never been so favorable.” “There is no action by the federal government to stop deforestation in the Amazon. Decreasing it is not a concern of the Bolsonaro government,” he explained.

In addition, the Amazon also set a new record for deforestation in September, with a high of almost 50% compared to the previous year.

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Federal Prosecution Office appeals after release of suspected killer of Bruno and Dom; organizations protest

There is strong concern that the suspect could flee

Credit: Reproduction

27 Oct 22

Federal Prosecution Office appeals after release of suspected killer of Bruno and Dom; organizations protest

The Federal Public Prosecution Office (MPF) appealed on Wednesday (26) against the decision that released Ruben Dario da Silva Villar, aka Colombia, suspected of ordering the murder of indigenous expert and activist Bruno Pereira and English journalist Dom Phillips. The MPF had already expressed its opposition to the request for the defendant’s release made by his defense.

The MPF is asking for Colombia to be kept in preventive custody until all doubts about his identity have been resolved, since he has Colombian, Brazilian, and Peruvian documents. The prosecution argues that “the applicant, once released, does not need much to evade and escape the application of Brazilian criminal law”. The prosecutor also claims that the Brazilian document he presented to the Federal Police “is false and, therefore, Rubens (or Ruben), in fact, committed the crime of use of a false document”.

The Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns Human Rights Defense Commission asked the authorities to reinforce their efforts to solve the case. In a statement released on Wednesday, the commission states that “it is important to ensure the due legal process without, however, opening opportunities for interference in the investigation of the facts or aggravating the situation of threatened groups”.

The Observatory for the Human Rights of Isolated and Newly-Contacted Indigenous Peoples (OPI) considers that the release of Colombia is a threat to the safety of indigenous people and public servants in Vale do Javari and also to the families of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips. 

The Federal Police is continuing investigations against Colombia for the crime of armed criminal association and command of an illegal fishing gang in Vale do Javari, Amazonas, used to launder drug trafficking money. There are also suspected links to local politicians who benefit from the scheme.

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Company associated with Bolsonaro's youngest son is granted 18 mining licenses in just two days

Renan was gifted by the company a R$ 90,000 car

Credit: Instagram/Reproduction

24 Oct 22

Company associated with Bolsonaro’s youngest son is granted 18 mining licenses in just two days

A company linked to Jair Renan, Jair Bolsonaro’s had 18 mining licenses granted in just two days. Amid an investigation into the crime of influence peddling and money laundering, Gramazini Granitos and Mármores Thomazini, linked to Jair Renan, youngest son of Jair Bolsonaro, got at the end of last year 18 more permits to mine in the south, southeast and northeast regions of the country. The decrees were published in the Diário Oficial da União (DOU) of December 29 and 30, 2021, and are valid for two to three years.

The group from Espírito Santo state, composed of 17 mining companies, is the same one that gave the Renan an electric car valued at R$ 90,000, as reported by O Globo newspaper early last year. A month after the donation, in October 2020, the firm scheduled a meeting with the Minister of Regional Development, Rogério Marinho, which Jair Renan also attended.

The situation drew the attention of the Federal Public Prosecution Office (MPF), which opened a preliminary procedure to investigate the case. Shortly afterwards, in December, the president’s son was summoned by the Federal Police to testify in the investigation.

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Court order sets free "Colombia", suspect of ordering the deaths of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips

He was arrested in July after entering Brazil with false documents

Credit: Reproduction

22 Oct 22

Court order sets free “Colombia”, suspect of ordering the deaths of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips

Ruben Dario da Silva Villar,  also known as ‘Colombia’, was released from jail on Friday morning (21) after paying a R$ 15,000 bail. Ruben is under investigation for ordering the murder of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira. He was imprisoned for carrying false documents. Colombia He is also suspect of running an illegal fishing gang in the Vale do Javari Indigenous Reserve in Amazonas state.

On October 11, Judge Fabiano Verli granted Colombia provisional release, further determining “the payment of bail in the amount of R$15,000; monthly appearance before Justice; to remain under house arrest; electronic monitoring; prohibition of travel outside of Brazil; and the surrender of his passport.”

Colombia was arrested in July 2022 while trying to enter Brazil with false documents. He denied involvement in the murders of Bruno and Dom and said he only had a “commercial relationship” with fishermen in Vale do Javari. However, the Federal Police suspect that Coelho finances illegal fishing in indigenous areas in the border region as a way to launder money from drug trafficking. To preserve his business, he would have put a bounty on Bruno Pereira’s head among the region’s criminals.

 

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