RIO DE JANEIRO – Shocked by global outrage and threats of economic losses as a result of fighting fires raging in the Amazon rainforest, Brazil on Saturday launched a hastily planned military operation to fight flames and generate a "positive perception" on  ] Since Saturday, at least four Brazilian states have formally requested military aid to control hundreds of fires that have been burning for several weeks, but have plunged President Jair Bolsonaro's administration into crisis mode only this week after the shooting began. sneezed to spread widely.
The number of fires tracked by the satellite this year is the highest since 201
Military officials said they had deployed two C-130 cargo aircraft equipped with fire tools in Rondonia and estimated how many nearly 44,000 troops based in the Amazon region to mobilize. In addition to Rondonia, the Armed Forces will support fire fighting efforts in the states of Pará, Tocantin and Roraima.
The plan is being implemented hours after Mr Bolsonro – a longtime critic of stringent but persistently enforced environmental regulations – told the nation in a televised speech that the government would take "zero tolerance" for environmental crime.
This was a remarkable statement by a leader who called fines on the environment an "industry" that should be abolished and promised to facilitate the access of industries to protected areas. Mr Bolsonroro himself was fined in 2012 for fishing in a protected area. The fine remained unpaid.
Mr. Bolsonaro dismissed concerns about the fires in the Amazon for days, but was moved to announce military efforts shortly after European leaders threatened to cancel a major trade deal and called for a boycott of Brazilian social media products.
Brazilian officials said the military was uniquely equipped to fight fires and help enforce environmental laws. But the restoration of the country's image has also played out.
Lt. Brig. Raoul Botelo, chief of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces, said creating a "positive perception of the country" was an important part of the mission.
At a press conference in the capital, Brazil, Saturday morning, officials said. they organized a task force to assess how military intelligence, logistical and transport capabilities could contain fires in areas where logging and farmers had destroyed the forest cover.
But key questions still need to be answered: how many fires will be fought, how many troops will be deployed and how much will be spent.
Images of forest fires – including many that are several years old – began to erupt this week as world leaders, celebrities and others raised concerns about the fate of the world's largest rain forest.
Amazon wildfires are common during this time of year as newly cleared land is being prepared for crops or grazing, but Mr. Bolsonaro's contempt for rigorous implementation of energy policies has prompted miners, loggers and farmers to they strip and burn protected areas with a sense of impunity.
World leaders have said that protecting the Amazon is first on the agenda for the leaders of the Group of 7 countries that meet this weekend in Biarritz, France. On Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron threatened to block a major European trade deal with Brazil and three other South American countries.
Mr. Bolsonroro's face was skeptical. As he spoke on television Friday night, many Brazilians were flogging dishes and pans in protest. Environmental groups have said they want to see a more detailed plan to limit environmental degradation.
"He seems more concerned with protecting himself than protecting the rain forest," said Marcio Astrini, public policy coordinator at Greenpeace, in a statement. .