Skip to main content

The head of Brazil’s space research agency INPE, Ricardo Galvao, is set to leave his job following a public dispute with President Jair Bolsonaro over deforestation statistics, a spokesperson for the science ministry said on Friday.

Preliminary data produced by INPE showed an 88 per cent jump in deforestation in June in the Amazon rain forest compared to the same month a year ago. Data for July 1 to July 25, the latest available, recorded 1,864 square kilometres of deforestation, more than triple the amount in the month of July last year.

Bolsonaro responded angrily to the numbers, describing them last month as a lie, and personally attacking Galvao, who he said might be “in service to some NGO.”

Story continues below advertisement

On Thursday, he said Galvao would be fired if he was found to have breached his confidence.

Galvao did not take the criticism lying down. In an interview on July 20 with national broadcaster Globo, he dismissed Bolsonaro’s criticism as “bar talk” and “a joke of a 14-year-old boy that is not suitable for a president of Brazil.” At the time, Galvao said he would not resign.

However, on Friday, Galvao told reporters as he left a meeting with the science minister that his position was no longer tenable, according to a recording broadcast on CBN.

“I will be dismissed,” he said.

A science ministry spokesperson said it was unclear if Galvao had resigned or been fired. A representative for INPE declined to comment.

Bolsonaro’s office and Galvao did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The opposition leader in the lower house of Congress, Alessandro Molon, said Galvao’s departure was a sign of an increasingly authoritarian president.

Story continues below advertisement

“He doesn’t accept being contradicted, even when there are scientific facts to prove he is wrong, as in the case of the INPE space agency and Amazon deforestation data,” he said.

On Thursday, Environment Minister Ricardo Salles told reporters during a briefing alongside Bolsonaro that the preliminary data produced by the system, known as DETER, contained errors. Some of the deforestation picked up in June had actually occurred earlier, and certain areas had been counted twice, he said.

The 88 per cent increase reported was a distortion of the data, he said, but offered no alternative figures.

INPE released a statement on the same day, saying it was confident in the quality of DETER data.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter