00:54 GMT +316 October 2019
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    ‘Victory of Society:’ Brazil Revokes Decree to Open Up Amazon Reserve to Mining

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    On Monday, the Brazilian government revoked a controversial decree to open up parts of the Amazon to commercial mining, only a month after the decree was announced.

    In a statement Monday, the country's Ministry of Mines and Energy declared that Brazilian President Michel Temer would issue a new decree reinstating the conditions of the original decree of 1984 that protected more than 17,000 square miles of rainforest in the north of the country in an area known as the National Reserve of Copper and Associates (Renca). 

    Renca, a carbon sink holding some of the world's richest biodiversity, and home to several indigenous groups, is also thought to be replete in gold, iron, manganese and other minerals.

    Brazil's Ministry of Mines and Energy argued that the abolition of the reserve would allow the government to counter illegal mining operations already underway and draw in legal investment.

    In addition, they claimed that only 30 percent of the reserve would be opened up to mining, which would not affect indigenous territories and nature conservation parks.

    The move to revoke some protections, however, was met with strong condemnation from activists and other politicians. It's the "biggest attack on the Amazon of the last 50 years," Senator Randolfe Rodrigues said, Brazilian newspaper O Globo reports. "Not even the military dictatorship dared so much," he continued, referring to the authoritarian military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985. "I never imagined the government has such nerve."

    Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen also expressed her indignation on Twitter, claiming that the government is "auctioning off our Amazon!"

    Greenpeace Brazil's Marcio Astrini also chimed in saying that "there is no leader absolutely immune to public pressures." The reversal "is a victory of society over those who want to destroy and sell our forest."

    "Renca is just a battle," Astrini cautioned. "The war against the Amazon and its different peoples, promoted by Temer and big agribusiness, is still on."

    The Ministry of Mines and Energy's statement suggested that for them the battle is not over yet either. 

    "The country needs to grow and generate jobs, attract investment to the mining sector and even tap the economic potential of the region."

    Temer has been under the microscope recently. Just this month, Brazil's anti-corruption prosecutor charged the president with obstruction of justice and racketeering for accepting bribes and conspiring to keep a witness silent, allegations Temer has rejected.

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    Indigenous, biodiversity, reserves, mining, Amazon
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