Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk met Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Friday to talk about rural areas’ internet connectivity and efforts to preserve the Amazon rainforest.
The meeting was held in a resort in the state of Sao Paulo and was organized by Communications Minister Fábio Faria. The minister has said he would like partnerships with Musk to create or boost internet connectivity in schools and health facilities in the country’s rural areas using SpaceX and Starlink technology, as well as to preserve the Amazon rainforest.
“Super excited to be in Brazil for launch of Starlink for 19,000 unconnected schools in rural areas & environmental monitoring of Amazon,” Musk wrote in a tweet Friday morning.
The rainforest’s illegal activities are monitored by several entities, including the national space agency, federal police and environmental regulator Ibama.
Deforestation in the Amazon has seen an uptick during Bolsonaro’s tenure as Brazil’s leader. Last year’s data from the national space agency showed that the rainforest reached its highest annual deforestation rate in 15 years.
Bolsonaro’s critics attribute this to the Brazilian president for having emboldened loggers and land grabbers with his impassioned support for the region’s development.
The president said during the event with Musk that the rainforest is “really important” to Brazil.
“We count on Elon Musk so that the Amazon is known by everyone in Brazil and in the world, to show the exuberance of this region, how we are preserving it, and how much harm those who spread lies about this region are doing to us,” he said.
Bolsonaro and Musk both appeared on a stage and answered questions from a group of students about the projects.
“A lot can be done to improve quality of life through technology,” Musk said.
The students did not ask about the billionaire’s potential purchase of Twitter, although Bolsonaro commented that it represented a “breath of hope.”
“Freedom is the cement for the future,” he said, adding that he believes Musk is a “legend of freedom.”
Musk was slated to take over Twitter after purchasing the company for $44 billion last month. But he revealed last week that the deal is temporarily on hold until the social media giant can back up its claims about the number of spam accounts on the platform.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.