Brazil’s Environment Minister Ricardo Salles stepping down amid illegal logging probe by Amazon

Ricardo Salles

Salles, one of the most controversial figures in the government of far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, announced his resignation Wednesday, just a bit more than a month after the Supreme Court ordered an inquiry into allegations he was involved in a timber selling program.

Ricardo Salles, Brazil’s environment minister who turned into a lightning conductor over logging in the Amazon rainforest, resigned Wednesday because he accused them of obstructing a federal investigation into illegal logging.

The court-mandated investigation follows police raids against the minister and other officials for allegedly allowing illegally picked timber to be exported from the Amazon to Europe and China.

“I understand that Brazil this year and next, for its international and national agenda, needs a very strong union of interests and efforts and, so that can be done as smoothly as possible, I tendered my resignation to the president,” Salles told journalists in the presidential palace.

Salles also provided the main negotiator to US officials concerning plans to help finance Amazon’s conservation.

According to Veja and The Guardian, the disputed talks between the U.S. State Department and the Brazilian government were suspended after it was disclosed the second investigation against Salles was taking place.

Salles is perhaps best remembered for his critics when, in April 2020, he told a Cabinet meeting that the government must use the coronavirus pandemic to streamline the environment.

Last week, local media reported that negotiations were stall, partly due to accusations surrounding Salles, and warnings from environmental activists and civil society groups about him.

Amazon (company)

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Amazon.com, Inc. is an American multinational technology company based in Seattle, Washington, which focuses on e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence. (wikipedia)

Ricardo Salles

Ricardo de Aquino Salles is a Brazilian politician who has served as Minister of the Environment since 1 January 2019, under President Jair Bolsonaro. (wikipedia)

Amazon rainforest

The Amazon rainforest, alternatively, the Amazon jungle or Amazonia, is a moist broadleaf tropical rainforest in the Amazon biome that covers most of the Amazon basin of South America. (wikipedia)

Jair Bolsonaro

Jair Messias Bolsonaro is a Brazilian politician and retired military officer who is the 38th president of Brazil. (wikipedia)

Joe Biden

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. is an American politician who is the 46th and current president of the United States. A member of the Democratic Party, (wikipedia)