Bolsonaro-Backed Highway Targets Heart Of Brazil’s Amazon | 8/22/2019 | Staff
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REALIDADE, Brazil (Reuters) – Deforestation in Brazil is the story of highways.

For more than 50 years, the destruction has almost always begun with a road hewn through the dense Amazon rainforest. With pavement, comes logging, then ranching and eventually commercial farming and towns.

Town - Realidade - State - Amazonas - Ecologists

Here in the run-down logging town of Realidade, in the state of Amazonas, ecologists say history looks set to repeat itself.

This hamlet of several dozen houses sits on the crumbling vestiges of BR-319, a highway built in the 1970s by the military and quickly abandoned. Much of the route is now impassable during the roughly six-month rainy season. Vehicles that attempt it during dry months crawl along the broken pavement, dodging epic potholes and jungle debris. Locals warn visitors who wander the section north of Realidade to look sharp for jaguars.

Brazil - President - Jair - Bolsonaro - Road

Now Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has vowed to resuscitate the road. Some scientists say the project could determine the future of the Amazon, the world’s largest tropical rainforest.

Bolsonaro’s administration is working on an ambitious plan to begin reconstruction by 2021 as part of a broader strategy to jumpstart economic development in the region. The completed project would reconnect Realidade with Manaus, a riverfront metropolis of 2 million people that lies 600 kilometers to the northeast. With BR-319 out of service much of the year, Manaus is consistently reachable only by water and air travel from the rest of Brazil.

BR-319 - Bolsonaro - July - Event - Manaus

“We are certain that our BR-319 will be paved,” Bolsonaro said in July at a public event in Manaus.

Bolsonaro’s office said the president has discussed the project with Infrastructure Minister Tarcisio Freitas, but declined further comment.

Amazon - Researchers - Road - Explosion - Deforestation

Amazon researchers said the repaved road would trigger an explosion of deforestation in Amazonas, currently Brazil’s best preserved rainforest state precisely because it has few good roads. A highway to Manaus would enable subsistence farmers,...
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