Lula announces measures to combat violence in the Amazon

Brasilia (BLAZETRENDS).- Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced this Friday a set of measures to strengthen public security, including a specific plan to combat the growing violence in the Amazon, restrictions on the sale of firearms and more drastic regulations against armed attacks in schools.

A total of nine measures, decrees and bills were announced a day after a report revealed that, despite the fact that violent deaths in Brazil fell in 2022 to their lowest level in eleven years, violence continues to worry in the Amazon; rapes were record high and crimes such as racism, homophobia, femicide and fraud shot up.

The so-called Security Action Program (PAS) announced by the progressive leader also includes measures to combat violence in schools, whose attacks, which have multiplied in Brazil in recent years, are now considered heinous crimes.

The main novelty was the announcement of the Security and Sovereignty Plan for the Amazon (AMAS) aimed at combating the growing violence in the largest tropical forest in the world, especially drug trafficking, illegal mining and environmental crimes.

“In the Amazon, with 5 million square kilometers, an area larger than Europe, organized crime, drug trafficking and everything that is illegal in Brazil is being promoted. We have to act so that it is not in the Brazilian jungle, so desired to be preserved by the whole world, that violence is encouraged, ”said the progressive leader in his speech.

Helicopters and boats for police in the Amazon

The plan foresees an investment of 2,000 million reais (about 416.7 million dollars) in the assembly of bases and the purchase of patrols, weapons, helicopters and armored boats for the security forces operating in the Amazon.

It also provides for the creation of new 28 land bases and 5 river bases in which some 6,000 agents of the federal and regional forces will operate jointly; the establishment of the Environmental Operations Company of the Public Security Force for the Amazon and a Center for International Police Cooperation in the region, both based in Manaus.

According to statistics released Thursday by the Brazilian Public Security Forum, the Amazon, despite being the least populated region in Brazil, was the scene of one in five violent deaths in the country last year, with more than 9,000 homicides out of the 47,500 registered in 2022 throughout the country.

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While the rate of deaths per 100,000 inhabitants fell to 23.4 for Brazil overall, the rate for the Amazon was 33.8, and in some states, such as Amapá, 50.6.

The growth of violence in the region is attributed to disputes between rival criminal organizations, the advance of illegal mining and deforestation, and the intensification of conflicts over land ownership in the region.

Restriction on access to weapons

Lula also announced new measures to restrict the possession and carrying of weapons in Brazil after his predecessor, the far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro (2019-2022), made the sale of weapons more flexible, including those for the exclusive use of the armed forces.

According to the report released Thursday, the number of weapons in the possession of ordinary citizens practically doubled in the four years of Bolsonaro’s administration, to close to 1.5 million in 2022.

“It is one thing for a citizen to have a weapon at home, but we cannot allow arsenals in people’s hands. We will continue fighting for an unarmed country. The one that has to be well armed is the police”, affirmed Lula.

The announced measures further reduce the number of weapons and ammunition that ordinary citizens, including hunters and collectors, can access, and once again establish some weapons such as 9-millimeter pistols and point-forties as exclusive use of the armed forces.

In the package of measures, the Government also reinforced the punishments for anti-democratic acts such as the one that occurred on January 8, in which thousands of “bolsonaristas” assaulted the headquarters of the Presidency, Congress and the Supreme Court.

Six months after the attempted coup, Lula presented two bills for consideration by Congress. One seeks to allow the seizure of assets and embargo of bank accounts of those responsible for this type of crime and another that the sentences be increased, which can reach up to 20 years for those who finance anti-democratic acts and up to 40 years for those who attempt against the life of authorities.

Other measures make it possible to distribute to regional governments 1,009.6 million reais (about 210.2 million dollars) from the National Fund for Public Security and 170 million (about 35.4 million dollars) from the Safe School Program.

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