Brazil failed to invite the United States to participate in the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) summit beginning on Tuesday – a notable omission given that President Joe Biden pledged 2.5 billion Brazilian reais ($500 million) to Brazil’s Amazon Fund this year.
Other countries that donated to the fund, such as Norway and Germany, are reportedly slated to participate in the summit by sending representatives.
The two-day ACTO summit hosted in the city of Belém by radical leftist Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will gather the presidents of Bolivia, Colombia, Guyana, and Peru, in addition to the European representatives.
Venezuela’s socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro was slated to participate in the encounter but canceled his participation early Tuesday morning “on medical recommendation” due to an alleged ear infection; Venezuelan “vice president” Delcy Rodríguez will attend in his stead.
Ecuador and Suriname, also ACTO members, will reportedly be represented by their ministers.
The Brazilian government announced on Tuesday morning that it expects parties to sign a document dubbed the “Declaration of Belém.” The document will “include priorities to be established for the sustainable development of the [Amazon] region, taking into account both forest preservation and the social inclusion of families who live there.”
The document will also reportedly include a pact to “stop deforestation by 2030, end illegal gold mining, and cooperate on cross-border policing of environmental crime.”
The Brazilian news network Jovem Pan reported Monday that, according to sources from Brazil’s Foreign Ministry, the United States was not invited to the event due to the “logistics adopted” that gave preference to ACTO’s members.
According to Jovem Pan’s source, Germany and Norway were invited because of the “traditional partnership they have with Brazil in support of Amazon conservation efforts” in Brazil’s territory. France was also invited to participate, as it is considered an Amazonian state due to its colonization of French Guiana.
The source also told Jovem Pan that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was invited due to its current status as the head of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) regional bloc.
In April, Biden announced that his administration would gift the Amazon Fund, a Lula project, $500 million over the next five years. Lula established the Amazon Fund during his prior term in office in 2008 to “raise donations for non-reimbursable investments in efforts to prevent, monitor and combat deforestation, as well as to promote the preservation and sustainable use in the Brazilian Amazon.”
The fund was launched in cooperation with Norway, the biggest donor to the initiative. Oslo invested $1.2 billion in the fund between 2008 and 2018. The fund’s operations were suspended in 2019 during the administration of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro but resumed after the nation’s top court, the Supreme Federal Tribunal (STF), ordered the Brazilian government to reactivate the fund’s operations in November 2022, days after Lula narrowly defeated Bolsonaro in last year’s presidential election.
The fund, managed by the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), also received a 200-million-euro ($218 million) pledge from Germany in January.
According to a statement issued by the White House in April, Biden’s $500 million pledge to Brazil’s Amazon Fund is part of the Biden Administration’s climate agenda, which includes an “ambitious 1.5°C-aligned goal of reducing emissions 50-52 percent in 2030.” Other goals include “decarbonizing” both energy and international shipping and “ending deforestation of the Amazon and other critical forests.”
“Together, Colombia and the United States are leading an effort to deal with climate change and to — I’ve been working for a long time, and we make — we’re going to make a $500 million commitment to deal with preserving the Amazon,” Biden said in remarks given in April during an official visit to Washington by Colombia’s far-left President Gustavo Petro.
Biden’s $500 million pledge to Brazil’s Amazon Fund effort followed threats he made against the country as a presidential candidate while Bolsonaro was still president. During a presidential campaign debate in September 2020, Biden threatened Brazil with “significant economic consequences” if it did not adhere to Biden’s environmental policies.
“Brazil, the rainforests of Brazil are being torn down, are being ripped down. More carbon is absorbed in that rainforest than every bit of carbon that’s emitted in the United States,” Biden said.
He continued his threat, “Instead of doing something about that, I would be gathering up and making sure we had the countries of the world coming up with $20 billion, and say, ‘Here’s $20 billion. Stop, stop tearing down the forest. And if you don’t, then you’re going to have significant economic consequences.’”
Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.