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Kaine, Rubio, and Merkley Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Address Crimes in Brazilian Amazon, Strengthen Regional Stability

Bill would address organized crime, deforestation, and violence in the Brazilian Amazon

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the Strengthening the Rule of Law in the Brazilian Amazon Act, bipartisan legislation to address crimes committed by organized criminal and drug trafficking groups who are devastating communities in and around the Brazilian Amazon, upending rule of law, and accelerating environmental degradation and deforestation. The bill would provide the U.S. government with more resources to support U.S.-Brazil efforts to address these crimes and prioritize identifying investment opportunities for U.S. companies in the Brazilian Amazon. This would help promote regional stability across the Western Hemisphere.

“The rise in environmental crimes and deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is interconnected with the uptick in violence, displacement, and drug trafficking in the region and has direct consequences for our security here at home,” said Kaine, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. “This bipartisan bill would support the United States’ efforts to address these crimes, protect the environment and local communities, and improve the stability of the region.”  

“Narcotraffickers, smugglers, and our adversaries have used the Amazon as a base to weaken our national security interests and destabilize the entire region. Through this bill, the U.S. and Brazil will work together to crack down on illegal activity in this vital region,” said Rubio, Ranking Member of the SFRC Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.

“The Amazon provides sanctuary for countless wildlife, and the trees of this tropical forest support not only Brazil’s environment, but the planet’s lifeblood,” said Merkley, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. “As the impacts of climate chaos become deadlier and more frequent—threatening our health, planet, and future—the U.S. must support Brazil's efforts to stand against the criminal and often violent efforts driving deforestation and environmental degradation in the Brazilian Amazon.”

Tackling environmental crimes and deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is necessary to uphold the rule of law, protect the environment, and address rising violence and displacement in the region. In 2022, there were more than 8,000 violent deaths in the Brazilian Amazon.

Specifically, the Strengthening the Rule of Law in the Brazilian Amazon Act would:

  • Direct the Secretary of State, in coordination with other U.S. federal agencies, to prioritize supporting Brazil’s efforts to identify and disrupt transnational criminal networks committing environmental crimes.
  • Direct the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to support local communities and vulnerable areas in the Brazilian Amazon.
  • Recommend the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) place an individual in Brazil responsible for identifying sustainable economic opportunities for U.S. businesses in the Brazilian Amazon.
  • Require the Secretary of State to submit a report to Congress regarding drivers of deforestation and environmental degradation in the Brazilian Amazon.
  • Advise the United States to encourage international financial institutions to prioritize promoting sustainable development in the Amazon and oppose loans or programs that would exacerbate environmental crimes in the region.

Full text of the bill is available here.