Federal Police will not float, says PF chief in Amazonas after criticism from Salles – 4/4/2021 – Environment

The biggest seizure of wood in the history of Brazil became a source of friction between the Federal Police and Ricardo Salles (Environment).

The minister went to Pará on Wednesday (31), where he did a kind of verification of the operation. Salles points out flaws in the action and has said that there are elements to think that the investigated companies are right.

In an interview with sheet, the head of the PF of Amazonas, Alexandre Saraiva, 50, says that this is the first time that he has seen an environment minister manifest himself in a way that is contrary to an action aimed at protecting the Amazon rainforest.

“It is the same as a labor minister speaking out against an operation against slave labor,” he says. The investigation of the case is under his command.

Saraiva declares that everything that was seized since December last year, more than 200 thousand cubic meters of wood, is the product of criminal action. He also states that the companies have so far not presented documents requested by the PF.

It is as if a car were stopped on the road, the police asked for the document, and the driver did not have in hand or deliver one on a Beetle, when he was driving a Chevette, says the chief, who completed his doctorate on the subject in February.

“If the documentation is within the law, we will release the wood on the spot. The possibility of this happening, in my opinion, is close to zero. ”

Having been superintendent positions in the PF for more than ten years (Roraima, Maranhão and Amazonas, now), he says that those investigated in the lawsuit cannot even be called companies. “It is a criminal organization.”

“In the Federal Police, there will not be any livestock”, he says, using the term used by Salles at a ministerial meeting last year.

?

Minister Ricardo Salles said he thought there were errors in the PF investigation. Like mr. saw that statement?
It seems to me that it is the same as a Minister of Labor speaking out against an operation against slave labor. I have never heard of an environment minister speaking out against an operation that aims to protect the Amazon rainforest. It is an unprecedented fact and it surprised me.

Entrepreneurs and the minister say, among other things, that the wood left exactly the place that their documents claim to have been extracted. Was that the reason for the apprehension?
No, the question is whether this exploitation could have taken place. Where is the administrative process that authorized this exploitation? Of course, the criminal knows where he committed the crime. This is uncontroversial. Is there a legal management plan?

The minister says he has verified the origin of two logs. Does the fact verified by the minister make no difference to the investigation?
It is irrelevant. For us, that wood is the product of crime. We are talking about approximately 40 thousand logs. If he looked at two, he came to such a conclusion, it is at least hasty.

What is the reason for these woods to be seized?
Irregularity in the management plan, in the area’s Rural Environmental Registry (CAR). These are very serious irregularities. For example, permanent preservation areas (APP), it seems, have been ignored.

Has the PF made reports of these apprehensions?
We have 10 or 12 reports unequivocally attesting to the illegality of exploitation. The companies have more than two dozen assessments at Ibama. It is a criminal organization. They don’t even deserve the name of companies. Their lives are dedicated to crime, theft of public goods, fraud, and corruption of public servants.

When mr. says that they have not yet shown that the wood is legal, wouldn’t it be the PF that should show that it is illegal?
Let’s say that someone is stopped in a blitze. The policeman asks for the vehicle document and the person says he doesn’t have one. The police need not show that the vehicle is illegal. The obligation is to have the document. We have been asking for the administrative process, which is what generates the DOF (Document of Forest Origin) or the forest guide, which allows logging.

They argue that they handed over the documents.
They handed over a document saying it was a Beetle and we were in front of a Chevette. What was in the forest guide on wood on the raft was not compatible with the load. They should have handed over the management plan and did not do so.

But is the PF asking for the DOF or the administrative process?
Going back to the comparison with the car. Imagine a company that sells stolen cars. She will need a scheme in the state agency to be able to have a false license (CRV), which will heat up the vehicle. Replaces car with wood and CRV with DOF.

We want to see the process that generated the DOF. For example, is that area owned by those people? Another issue, the Rural Environmental Registry [CAR] is it in accordance with the environmental standards of the time? The permanent preservation areas have not been respected.

Mr. did you see a problem in the minister’s trip to the apprehension site?
I could have even gone. But why did the ministry not send a team from Ibama for technical work and even, if applicable, to approve the logging companies? That would be a very welcome and institutional action. [O Ibama estava presente na visita, mas ainda não fez um relatório final sobre o caso.]
They act in the administrative aspect and the PF as an organ of criminal prosecution. But one thing has nothing to do with the other, a basic lesson that a sophomore in law knows.

The minister mentions in the interview with the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo that the PF is creating a situation of legal instability and that the logging companies will break down. What is your opinion?
We either make a country based on the law or we do it based on crime. If it is not within the law, it does not have to work at all. If the law is bothering you, the law is changed. But this is the law that is in force today, and we are complying with it.

Can’t the investigation be wrong?
There is a presumption that there is a crime committed there. And we are talking about environmental resources, in which there is another basic principle of environmental law, the principle of caution. There is an obligation of Organs environmental agencies and the police, when in doubt, to seize and conduct an investigation.

Will the woods be released on Wednesday (7), on the minister’s next visit to Pará?
If the processes are presented and the documentation is within the law, of course we will release it. Just in time. It couldn’t be different. If it’s right, it’s right. In my opinion, the possibility of this is close to zero.

What is the impact of the performance of these companies on the market?
I have been in the Amazon for ten years. In my opinion, exploitation, in this way, makes legal exploitation of wood unfeasible, stifled by a criminal organization. That is why high quality Brazilian wood is being sold in the USA at a price of plywood, pine, and, in Europe, at a price of eucalyptus. The minister said that I recoiled on the issue of the responsibility of European countries [no desmatamento]. Never. I never backed down. This does not mean to say that Brazil has no responsibility for the preservation of the Amazon. No way. But it is clear that consumption encourages crime.

Critics of the operation say that even the army realized that the investigation was bogged down and therefore withdrew.
The Army has given us fundamental support. He left when he understood that he had fulfilled his institutional role. It doesn’t change anything [na investigação].

The Bolsonaro government is severely criticized for its actions on the environment. What is your opinion?
I see this government committed to protecting the environment. I think we will end the year with a very low rate of deforestation. There is a correct strategy, attacking the problem where it has to be attacked, which is within the administrative process.

One of the criticisms has to do with a statement from the minister last year, when he said that it was necessary to take advantage of the attentions turned to Covid-19 to pass the cattle, talking about easing of rules. Like mr. did you see that line?
I will not and cannot comment on the manifestation of the Minister of the Environment in a situation that does not involve the superintendence of the PF in Amazonas. But here at the Federal Police there will not be a float.

Mr. formulates its performance seeking to be Minister of the Environment?
I went to the Amazon in 2011, in Roraima, because I believed it was possible to do something to stop deforestation. I’ve been working on it ever since, with an emphasis. There is no relationship between being a minister or not. My career is in PF. I’m a police officer, but I’m also a civil servant in the country.

His name was listed a few times because he was close to the president. What is the relationship that mr. have with him?
I spoke to him twice. Once, he was already elected, I talked to him about environmental issues, at his house. Live again [semanal]. They were the only contacts I had.

The minister said he needs US $ 1 billion to be able to reduce deforestation by 40%. Like mr. see?I would say that the most important institution for combating deforestation in the Amazon is the Federal Police. And he never received a cent from the Amazon Fund. I don’t think I need to say anything else.


Alexandre Saraiva, 50
Superintendent of the Federal Police in the state of Amazonas since 2017, he has also held the position in Roraima (2011-2014) and Maranhão (2014-2017). He holds a doctorate in environmental sciences and sustainability in the Amazon from the Federal University of Amazonas

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