Brazil: Elon Musk launches an “environmental monitoring” program in the Amazon

One more project for the whimsical entrepreneur. Billionaire Elon Musk, visiting Brazil on Friday, announced on Twitter the launch of his satellite Internet “connection” program for isolated schools and “environmental monitoring” of the Amazon.

“I’m super excited to be in Brazil for the launch of Starlink for 19,000 unconnected schools in rural areas and for environmental monitoring in the Amazon,” tweeted the richest man in the world, before a meeting with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro near São Paulo.

Satellites to detect deforestation

In November, the Brazilian government announced negotiations for SpaceX to deploy satellite internet over the Amazon rainforest and help detect illegal deforestation.

The meeting between the Brazilian president and the billionaire took place in the morning in a luxury hotel in Porto Feliz, about 100 km from São Paulo.

“As we are going to connect the Amazon, we have brought (to Brazil) one of the greatest business leaders in the world to help us in this mission,” Brazilian Communications Minister Fabio Faria said on Twitter, an illustrated message of two photos of him alongside Elon Musk, in the hotel in question.

Journalists present were kept at a distance from the establishment, surrounded by an important security device, noted an AFP team, which saw President Bolsonaro quickly get out of the car on his arrival to greet the forces of the order before entering the hotel.

The Amazon, hot topic

Thursday evening, he announced that he was going to have a “private” meeting in São Paulo “with a very important person known throughout the world”. This person “comes to offer his help for our Amazon,” said the president in his weekly live on social networks.

The Amazon is a hot topic in Brazil, and in that country’s relations with the international community. Deforestation has increased sharply under the Bolsonaro government, accused of promoting impunity for gold miners, farmers or timber traffickers who illegally deforest the rainforest.

According to a study by the NGO collective Mapbiomas, the environmental protection bodies of the Bolsonaro government intervened after less than 3% of the deforestation alerts detected by the satellites of the monitoring system currently in force.

Musk, hero of the Bolsonaro clan

Elon Musk became a hero of the Bolsonarian clan when he announced his intention to buy Twitter last month, promising less restrictive moderation in the name of freedom of expression. Very active on social networks, Jair Bolsonaro has seen several of his publications deleted, including on Twitter, for disinformation.

O Globo indicated that the meeting was to take place in the presence of two ministers, Fabio Faria and that of Defence, Paulo Sergio Nogueira, as well as 13 business leaders, including the bosses of the main telecommunications companies in the country.

SpaceX launched a second shipment of around 50 Starlink service satellites in mid-February to provide an Internet connection to customers around the world. Starlink allows residents of areas poorly served by fixed and mobile networks to have access to high-speed Internet, via thousands of small satellites.

Elon Musk is at the head of a fortune estimated by Forbes magazine at 230 billion dollars. He recently announced his intention to buy the social network Twitter for 44 billion dollars, before suspending this project by conditioning it on obtaining data on the proportion of fake accounts.

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