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Amazon destruction rising fast

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"This government has taken a long time to do anything - and not just with the environment," says Rosa Lemos de Sa, conservation director for the Brazilian branch of the World Wildlife Fund. "So far there have been a lot of meetings, a lot of talking, a lot of planning. I am starting to get nervous. I want to see things happening."

Although the Lula government says it needs time for its antideforestation measures, launched last month, to take effect, environmentalists say that if the government's other promises are anything to go by, then they are right to be wary. Since taking power, Lula has done about-turns on several key environmental issues - such as flip- flopping on genetically modified foods and possibly opening another nuclear reactor outside Rio - prompting activists to openly question his commitment to protecting the environment.

"Lula has been dazzled by power," says Fernando Gabeira, a former Green Party legislator who joined Lula's Workers' Party before the election but resigned last year because, he says, "Lula was speaking like someone who wants development at all costs. He cheated us in that he gave us the impression that we were allies and today he is much more allied with our adversaries. But then again he cheated many sectors. He got into government and changed positions."

Presidential candidates who say one thing on the campaign trial and then do another when they get into power are nothing new. But there were many reasons to believe Lula was different. A former shoeshine boy and union leader who won a landslide victory by promising to make Brazil a kinder and fairer nation, he was elected in large part because of his personal and political integrity.

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