Brazil Military Mobilizes to Fight Amazon Fires, and Restore ‘Positive Perception’


Brazil Military Mobilizes to Fight Amazon Fires, and Restore ‘Positive Perception’

RIO DE JANEIRO — Rocked by global outrage and threats of economic losses over its handling of fires raging in the Amazon rain forest, Brazil on Saturday began a hastily planned military operation to battle the blazes and generate a “positive perception” of the country.

As of Saturday, at least four Brazilian states had formally requested military assistance to contain hundreds of fires, which have been burning for several weeks but plunged President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration into crisis mode only this week after photographs began circulating widely.

The number of fires tracked by satellite this year is the highest since 2010.

Military officials said they had deployed two C-130 cargo planes equipped with firefighting tools to the state of Rondônia and were assessing how many of the nearly 44,000 troops based in the Amazon area to mobilize. In addition to Rondônia, the armed forces will support firefighting efforts in the states of Pará, Tocantins and Roraima.

The plan got underway hours after Mr. Bolsonaro — a longtime critic of Brazil’s strict, but sparsely enforced, environmental regulations — told the nation in a televised speech that the government would take a “zero tolerance” approach to environmental crimes.


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