Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Friday that he hopes Elon Musk will “bring back the truth” about deforestation in the Amazon, after discussing with the billionaire a satellite monitoring program whose usefulness has been questioned by specialists.
The right-wing head of state also returned the lift to the world’s richest man, supporting the candidate for taking over Twitter in his desire for “total freedom of expression” for the social network, without the moderation that helps fight against misinformation.
“We must show the world the truth about the Amazon, this region that other countries covet. And by showing this truth, we will show that the Amazon has been preserved,” said Mr. Bolsonaro, who has been widely criticized for world. increasing deforestation under his tenure.
“It’s a first contact, the beginning of a romantic relationship, I’m sure it will soon lead to marriage,” he added at a press conference in which Mr. did not participate. Musk.
At the meeting, in a luxury hotel near Sao Paulo (southeast), the president of Brazil presented him with the medal of the Order of Merit for Defense.
“Sound of Chainsaws”
“I’m super excited to be in Brazil for the launch of Starlink for 19,000 unconnected schools in rural areas and for environmental monitoring in the Amazon,” tweeted the owner of space company SpaceX a few hours earlier. of car manufacturer Tesla.
Starlink allows residents of areas less served by fixed and mobile networks to have access to high-speed Internet, via thousands of small satellites.
Communications Minister Fabio Faria revealed that Elon Musk had requested “authorization to install 40,000 satellites” above Amazon.
According to the minister, these satellites are equipped with a “laser system that detects the noise of chainsaws” and makes it possible to “verify whether deforestation is illegal or not”.
Elon Musk “never criticized Amazon without knowing it, unlike many. He came here to find out the truth, to find out what Amazon is”, added the minister, who announced that in November negotiations for SpaceX to deploy satellite internet on Amazon. rainforest and assist in the detection of illegal deforestation.
“For Bolsonaro, this meeting is positive,” Oliver Stuenkel, professor of international relations at the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV), told AFP.
“But above all it is a frontal speech, specialists believe that the problem of deforestation is not the lack of monitoring, the Brazilian system is very sophisticated. The problem comes from the lack of controls” on the part of State agent, with almost no punishment.
“Breath of Hope”
According to a study by NGO collective Mapbiomas, the environmental protection bodies of the Bolsonaro government intervened only after less than 3% of deforestation alerts were detected by the satellites of the monitoring system currently being implemented.
The current monitoring system, from the Inpe Space Research Institute, reported deforestation alerts on 1,012 km2 in April, equivalent to nearly 140,000 football fields, a record for this month of the year.
“The Inpe system is one of the most modern in the world, an example for monitoring tropical forests”, assured Marcio Astrini, head of the Climate Observatory, another collective of NGOs for environmental protection.
“Bolsonaro is saying nonsense. He says that Amazon is coveted by foreign interests, but he wants to do it without the supervision of a Brazilian institute and rely on a foreign multimillionaire,” he added.
Elon Musk leads with a fortune estimated by Forbes magazine at 230 billion dollars.
He became a hero for the Bolsonarian clan when he announced last month his intention to buy Twitter for 44 billion dollars.
Jair Bolsonaro said on Friday that he felt a “bump of hope” at the announcement of this acquisition, which has finally been suspended, Mr. Musk has conditioned it into capturing data on the proportion of fake accounts.
Very active on social networks, the president has several times deleted his publications due to misinformation, including on Twitter.