Brazil's Minister of the Environment Ricardo Salles smiles for a photo during an interview with The Associated Press in Washington, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. After facing international criticism for steeply rising rates of deforestation in the Amazon, Salles is visiting the U.S., France, Germany, and the United Kingdom to insist that there’s no big problem. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick

Brazil aims to deflect criticism over Amazon deforestation

September 20, 2019 - 1:18 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — After facing global criticism for deforestation in the Amazon, Brazil's minister of the environment, Ricardo Salles, is visiting the U.S., France, Germany, and the U.K. to insist that there's no big problem.

He is also promoting the idea of a "bio-economy agenda" to monetize Brazil's natural resources. But scientists and civil society groups in Brazil are wary that it's another name for exploitation. He spoke Friday during an interview with The Associated Press in Washington.

Brazil has strict environmental laws on the books, but enforcement budgets and campaigns were slashed after President Jair Bolsonaro took office.

Bolsonaro, sometimes called "the Tropical Trump," took office on Jan. 1, following an election campaign in which he dubbed environmental enforcement an impediment to economic growth.

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