A group of leaders from countries with Amazonian territory agreed on Friday to monitor by satellite the largest tropical forest in the world to respond more quickly to emergencies, in order to avoid tragedies such as fires that have consumed hundreds of thousands of hectares of jungle.
Iván Duque of Colombia, Lenín Moreno of Ecuador and Martín Vizcarra of Peru. / Via REUTERS
Reuters | Luis Jaime Acosta
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Leer en español: Líderes de países de la Amazonía se unen para proteger la selva
The presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia, Iván Duque of Colombia, Lenín Moreno of Ecuador and Martín Vizcarra of Peru, in addition to the vice president of Suriname, Michael Adhin, gathered in the Amazonian city of Leticia, while the fire that worries the international community remains.
The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, participated in the meeting through a videoconference and sent his chancellor, to which a minister from Guyana joined.
"We are signing the Leticia Pact (...) a pact that obliges us, commits us and motivates us to protect our Amazon, to do prevention, mitigation, care work when we have risks or when forest fires occur," said the Colombian Duke at the end of the meeting.
The Amazon countries agreed to establish regional cooperation mechanisms, exchange information to combat deforestation, increase jungle surveillance with satellites, unify and coordinate efforts to address emergencies caused by fires and greater financing with their own resources and from the international community.
They also pledged to increase vigilance to prevent deforestation caused by logging, planting of coca leaf crops, illegal exploitation of minerals and the use of the forest for agriculture and livestock.
FIRST, MOTHER EARTH
The Bolivian president - after Bolsonaro, the only one of those gathered who suffers fires in his Amazonian territory - proposed incorporating the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, who governs a country with an area in the tropical forest but is not recognized by several of the nations that met in Colombia.
"We must participate together without exclusion, without marginalization. Ideological differences must move to second place, the first is the right of mother earth," he said.
The record number of fires that ravage the Amazon, which provides 20% of the planet's oxygen and houses some three million species of plants and animals, has caused international outrage due to the importance of the jungle to the global environment and forced to the Brazilian president to send soldiers to help in the fight against fire.
The Amazon, 60% of which is in Brazil, is considered a key point of biodiversity in which 34 million people live, including about one million indigenous people from some 500 tribes.
The dense jungle absorbs a huge amount of the world's carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that is believed to be the biggest factor behind climate change. Scientists say that preserving it is vital to combat global warming.
Fires in the Amazon are often caused to clear land that is later used for agriculture and livestock.
French President Emmanuel Macron described the fires as an international emergency and an "ecocide," and criticized the Brazilian government, accusing him of doing little to protect the rainforest.
"We take a firm position in defense of our sovereignty and that this serves to allow each country within its land to develop the best policy for the Amazon region and not allow that policy to be treated by other countries," Bolsonaro said during his participation in the encounter.