Simon G. Romero
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New York Times bureau chief in Brazil. New Mexico born and raised. Eternal question: red or green? http://twitter.com/viaSimonRomero
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Street near the Palácio da Fazenda. Rio.
Down there: jungles on the fringe of the Amazon River Basin.
Gotta love the Gurgel. Rio.
Jungle everywhere in this city. Rio.
A charcoal oven is destroyed in Centro do Guilherme, an outpost in Maranhão State, by a member of GEF, a Special Ops unit created by Brazil's environmental protection agency. The felled trees turned into charcoal in such places is often used to make pig iron, a coveted ingredient for producing steel. Revealing how interconnected the global economy has become, this means that manufacturers of cars and appliances also contribute to the deforestation in the Amazon River Basin. With the unglamorous name of Grupo Especializado de Fiscalização, or Specialized Inspection Group, GEF operates on the front lines of Brazil's struggle to curb the destruction of the Amazon. I recently embedded with GEF and wrote about their work this week in The New York Times.
A tractor used for illegal logging goes up in flames in the Alto Rio Guamá Indian Territory in Brazil's Amazon jungle. I embedded with GEF, the Special Ops unit of Brazil's environmental protection agency, in March. The squad is an assemblage of nerds: an oceanographer, an environmental activist, a fisheries specialist, forestry engineers, all under the command of a former high school science teacher. They undergo a punishing survival course that has forged one of Latin America's most feared elite fighting units. The patrols I accompanied were grueling, involving swooping down in helicopters to destroy logging operations and long treks through the rain forest. This unit does incredible work fighting deforestation and illegal mining. My story on GEF appears this week in The New York Times.
It takes a while to get used to flying over the jungle in a helicopter with the door open. Down there: the Alto Turiaçu Indian Territory in Maranhão, Brazil 🇧🇷
São Luís, the state capital of Maranhão, founded by the French as Saint-Louis in the 17th century.
Downtown São Luís, the capital of Maranhão.
A palace fit for kings? This sprawling neoclassical colossus is actually where governors exercise power in Maranhão, one of Brazil's poorest states. People in the capital, São Luís, call it the Palace of the Lions, a name thought to refer to the bronze sculptures of large meat-eating wildcats at the entrance and the voracity with which political leaders in the palace collect taxes in Maranhão.