Brazil conflicted over road-paving plan


On Oct. 9, 1970, Brazil’s military president Gen. Emílio Garrastazu Medici and a group of his ministers walked into thick Amazon forest near the then-tiny Pará state town of Altamira. Several miles in, they stopped and, as Medici looked on approvingly, workers felled a large tree to mark the start of construction of the country’s Trans-Amazon Highway. A memorial plaque at the site announces that the road was built “to conquer this gigantic green world.” Less than two years later, on Aug. 27, 1972, Medici inaugurated a 1,550-mile (2,500-km) highway route through the jungle to bring settlers from Brazil’s draught-ridden northeast to the then largely empty Amazon region. Repressing opposition to the project and ignoring ecological concerns, the regime said... [Log in to read more]

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