Brazil’s trans-Amazonian freeway of fireplace and dirt, by Anne Vigna (Le Monde diplomatique


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BR 230: dusty observe within the dry season, muddy hell when it rains

Coen Wubbels

On reaching the city of Lábrea within the coronary heart of Brazilian Amazonia I noticed bikers coated in ochre mud, waving their mobiles and asking locals the place they’d discover the official plaque marking the tip of the Trans-Amazonian Freeway. I’m informed it’s a typical sight. They wished to {photograph} the completion of their 4,260-km journey. However there is no official signal, as a result of the freeway was not supposed to finish right here. Fifty years in the past, Brazil’s army leaders, in energy from 1964 to 1985, deliberate to construct a bridge over the Purus River at Lábrea and lengthen the freeway 660km west to Benjamin Fixed, a border city within the state of Amazonas named after the final thought to be Brazil’s founder. However, after 4 years’ work, the deliberate 5,000-km highway stopped quick in Lábrea — which bought no commemorative plaque.

The army regime was pleased with the Trans-Amazonian Freeway, even in its unfinished state. Foreigners had lengthy had their eye on the rainforest’s immense riches. and the army formulated a doctrine that guided them for 20 years: ‘Combine the territory in order to not lose it.’ Linking the Amazon to the remainder of Brazil, notably the northeast, was the primary stage of their venture, coordinated by the Nationwide Integration Plan (PIN), permitted by Brazil’s president, Basic Emílio Garrastazu Médici, in 1970. In a speech in Manaus that October, he set out the plan to ‘exploit the mining reserves and make virgin land fertile to create actual financial property. On this approach we are going to occupy the Amazon — crucial for progress and Brazil’s dedication to its personal historical past.’

Antonio Moreia de Almeida was 13 when the fifth Military Engineering and Building Battalion constructed the ultimate stretch of the freeway to Lábrea. He remembers ‘troopers popping out of the forest with machines like nothing we’d seen earlier than. Then, the city had simply 7,000 inhabitants. It was an enormous upheaval. We felt we had been lastly opening as much as the world — we’d solely been linked to it by the river till (…)

Full article: 2 804 phrases.

(1See Renaud Lambert, ‘Does Amazonia belong to the world?’, Le Monde diplomatique, English version, October 2019.

(2See Greg Grandin, ‘Henry Ford’s Amazonian dream’, Le Monde diplomatique, English version, August 2011.

(3President Bolsonaro’s weekly livestream on social media, 23 January 2020.

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