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Sunday, 25 July 2021

Brazil's environment minister resigns amid probe

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Brazil's environment minister resigns amid probe
Brazil's environment minister resigns amid probe

Brazilian Environment Minister Ricardo Salles quit on Wednesday, facing a criminal investigation of whether he obstructed a police probe of illegal logging in the Amazon rainforest.

Jayson Albano reports.

Brazil's Environment Minister stepped down on Wednesday amid a criminal inquiry into whether he obstructed a police probe of illegal logging in the Amazon.

A Supreme Court justice authorised an investigation into Ricardo Salles this month.

That's after federal police raids targeted the minister and other officials alleged to have allowed illegal wood exports.

Salles addressed a crowd of reporters in the capital Brasilia.

"I understand that Brazil throughout this year and next on the international stage and also in the national agenda needs to have a strong union of interests.

So that this can be done in the most serene manner possible, I submitted my resignation." Salles had been leading U.S.-Brazil talks over funding to preserve the world's largest rainforest.

But sources familiar with the matter say, with the last meeting held more than a month ago, those negotiations have stalled.

The sources also say that it was unclear if the delay was related to the outgoing minister.

Both Salles and right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro have been widely criticised by activists over surging deforestation in the Amazon, since Bolsonaro took office in 2019.

In a recorded cabinet meeting, Salles said the Brazilian government should push through environmental deregulation while the public was distracted by the global health crisis.