The Brazilian Agriculture and Agrarian Reform Senate Commission seems more dedicated than ever to protect the Amazon. Millionaire Johan Eliasch, president of Cool Earth (a nonprofit environmentalist organization), who is also an adviser to British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has been invited to attend a hearing of the Brazilian Senate on June 25.
The Senate has approved an investigation commission proposed by Senator João Pedro from the Amazon region. According to official reports, Gethal, a company owned by the Swedish-English entrepreneur Eliasch is being accused of illegally purchasing approximately 121,000 acres of land in the Amazon region.
Johan Eliasch became famous worldwide, when back in 2006 he announced to be the owner of the Amazon. On June 6, Brazilian government officials announced a fine of US$ 276 million against Gethal for illegal commercialization and trans portion of noble trees from the Amazon rainforest region.
The commission will also investigate superintendents from the IBAMA (Brazilian Institute for Environment and Renewable Natural Resources), Mr. Henrique Pereira and Mrs Socorro Marques from INCRA (National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform).
Logging company Gethal is not the only one listed on the inquiry report. Environmentalist non-profit organizations in the region will also be investigated, as it is estimated that 55% of the Amazon region is already owned by foreign citizens.
Johan Eliasch is married to a wealthy influential member of Brazilian Society, Ana Paula Junqueira, who is also president of ANUBRA (United Nations Association in Brazil).
According to Rolf Hackbart, INCRA's President, Brazil needs to adopt urgent protective measures. "This is not a matter of xenophobia," Hackbart says, "but sovereignty, since there seems to be a worldwide dispute for control over these lands".
Controversy apart, Brazil has a historic issue of colonization and foreign control. Back in the 1500's, Portuguese colonizers exploited the Atlantic Forest, exporting Brazilwood to Europe. At the time the Atlantic forest occupied 1 million square kilometers of Brazil's coast (approximately 387,000 square miles), today only 8% of the forest is still preserved. The Amazon is not only known for its forests, but also its rich biodiversity, and mineral resources.
Edison Bernardo DeSouza is a journalist, having graduated from the Pontifical Catholic University in São Paulo, Brazil. He lived in the US for close to 10 years and participated in volunteering activities in social works agencies. DeSouza currently lives in São Paulo where he teaches English as a Second Language, and is pursuing further advancements in his career. He is particularly interested in economics and human rights articles.