Porto Felize, Brazil:
Billionaire Elon Musk traveled to Brazil on Friday to meet with right-wing President Zaire Bolsonaro and unveil a project to connect thousands of Amazon schools to the Internet and expand satellite surveillance of the rainforest.
The two men met at a luxury hotel in Porto Felize, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) outside Sao Paulo, where executives from several Brazilian companies were present.
“Excited to come to Brazil to launch Starlink for 19,000 unconnected schools in rural areas and for Amazon’s environmental monitoring!” Mask of the project tweeted.
In comments to the meeting, whose snippets were shared on social media, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla said the project would be “really good” for deforestation “for education (and) environmental reasons.”
No further details of the deal were released, and journalists were kept away from the meeting place.
The destruction of the Amazon has intensified under the Bolsonaro government, which has been accused of promoting impunity for gold miners, farmers and timber smugglers who illegally clear the rainforest.
The president, however, claimed on Friday that the new project would reveal the “truth” about the state of the Amazon: “The tide of the region, how it is protected by us.”
Experts point out that Brazil already has plans to monitor deforestation.
“What’s missing is action, not surveillance,” said Tasso Azevedo, coordinator of MapBiomas – a consortium of NGOs, universities and startups that works well with satellite imagery.
– Freedom of speech? –
Bolsonaro told Musk last month that the announcement of his $ 44 billion bid for Twitter had come as a “ray of hope.”
The offer has since been suspended, with Mask claiming proof of the number of Twitter spam accounts.
Balsonaro has deleted a number of social media posts accusing him of using fake news as a political weapon, and welcomed Musk’s remarks about easing restrictions on free speech.
The billionaire promised, among other things, to restore the account of former President Donald Trump – Bolsonaro’s political idol.
“In recent weeks, Kasturi has become one of the heroes of Bolsonarism,” said Oliver Stuenkel, an international relations expert at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Sao Paulo.
Ahead of the October election, “his potential acquisition on Twitter was seen as good news because it is expected to end sanctions.”
Balsonaro, who is seeking re-election, is trailing leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in opinion polls.
Bolsonaro tweeted a picture of him and Musk shaking hands, saying they had “discussed the use of technology … and the realization of Brazil’s economic potential.”
The meeting was kept secret until a few hours before it happened.
– High speed internet-
Musk has been listed by Forbes as the richest man in the world with a fortune of over $ 200 billion.
“Since we’re going to connect with Amazon, we’ve brought in one of the world’s largest entrepreneurs to help us in this mission,” Communications Minister Fabio Faria, who met with Musk in Texas last November, tweeted.
At the time, the government announced that it was negotiating with SpaceX for satellite access.
SpaceX has thousands of Starlink satellites in orbit, especially to provide high-speed internet in areas where there is no fixed or mobile network facility.
Many more launches are planned to expand the service to more than 100,000 subscribers worldwide.
Friday’s meeting came hours after he denied allegations on Twitter that he had arrested a flight attendant six years ago and revealed himself to her.
Musk tweeted that the latest “attack” on him was related to his plan to “restore freedom of speech on Twitter and vote for Republicans.”
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)