The ‘agricultural mafia’ takes over Brazil’s Amazon rainforest

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Encouraged by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and local authorities who want to see the development of agribusiness, an “agricultural mafia” is taking over the Amazon rainforest. In the Brazilian state of Rondonia, organized groups set up camps for small farmers, sometimes the size of a city, within national forest parks that are supposedly protected by law, or on land stolen from indigenous peoples. Our reporters investigated this “agricultural mafia”, from the small farmer who is promised a plot of land and a future, to the politicians pulling the strings.

Although both the local government and the Bolsonaro administration claim to be trying to prevent the phenomenon, new camps for farmers continue to appear in the Amazon.

Meanwhile, the destruction of vegetation is accelerating. Between January and August of this year, the Brazilian Amazon lost 7,715 km² of forest, the equivalent of one million soccer fields. It is the worst level of deforestation recorded during this period in the last decade.

Fanny Lothaire, Lena Lopes and Tim Vickery from Jowharbring us this special report.