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|Brazil's president-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who takes office January 1, 2019, has long criticized government environmental monitoring agencies. (Photo: AFP/Sergio LIMA)|
Brazil's incoming far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, took a swipe on Saturday at the government's environmental monitoring agencies, warning he would not allow them to impose "fines all over the place."
"The party is over," said Bolsonaro, a retired army captain who takes office on January 1. He was speaking on the sidelines of a ceremony at the Agulhas Negras (Black Eagles) military academy outside Rio de Janeiro, where he studied in the 1970s.
"I will no longer allow Ibama and ICMBio to be handing out fines all over the place," he said, referring to Brazil's main government environmental protection bureaus.
"I want to defend the environment, but not in a Shiite way, as is taking place now," he said. He used the word "Shiite" as a synonym for radical and inflexible.
Bolsonaro himself owes Ibama 10,000 reais (us$2,600) for illegally fishing in 2012.
The president-elect vowed to pay the fine. "But I am living proof of the bias and bad work of some inspectors of Ibama and ICMBio. This will stop," he said.
During the presidential campaign Bolsonaro criticized both government agencies, arguing that environmental protection could not "hinder development" and complaining that agribusiness was being "suffocated" by regulations.
A notorious climate change skeptic, Bolsonaro has threatened to withdraw Brazil from the 2015 Paris Agreement to curb global warming.
On Saturday he said that he took part in the recent government decision to withdraw Brazil's offer to host the COP25 UN climate conference next year, officially due to "budget constraints."
Bolsonaro also reiterated his intention to "integrate Indians into society," saying that he no longer wants to maintain native reservations.
"My plan is to make Indians our equals," he said. "They have the same needs as us, they want doctors, dentists, television, internet."
This ignores the wish of the tribes to maintain their traditional way of life, away from towns and cities.
Bolsonaro had a similar comment on Friday, claiming that over the past 20 years Brazil has been under foreign pressure to designate territory for native Brazilians.
"Why here in Brazil should we keep them reclusive in reservations, as if they were animals in a zoo?" he asked.