- Brazil has rejected $US20 million offered by the G7 countries to help fight the Amazon forest fires.
- “Brazil is a democratic, free nation that never had colonialist and imperialist practices, as perhaps is the objective of the Frenchman Macron,” Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, said on Monday.
- In a Monday tweet, Bolsonaro also said the G7’s offer made Brazil seem “as if we were a colony or no man’s land.”
- Bolsonaro and French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country hosted this year’s G7 summit, are locked in a war of words over the correct response to the fires.
- Brazil’s defence minister on Monday claimed the fires were “under control.” Some fires have been extinguished, but many remain.
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Brazil’s administration has rejected a $US20 million emergency fund from the G7 group of wealthy nations to fight fires in the Amazon, calling it “colonialist and imperialist.”
The move comes amid a fracas between French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country hosted this year’s G7 meetings, and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro over how to address the fires, a dispute that climaxed Monday with Bolsonaro mocking Macron’s wife.
Earlier that day Onyx Lorenzoni, Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, also said Brazil was rejecting the G7’s money and accused France of reviving colonialist tendencies.
“Brazil is a democratic, free nation that never had colonialist and imperialist practices, as perhaps is the objective of the Frenchman Macron,” Lorenzoni told the Brazilian news site G1.
Bolsonaro echoed the sentiment in a tweet Monday, saying the G7’s intervention to “save” the Amazon made Brazil seem “as if we were a colony or no man’s land.”
The fires were predominantly caused by Brazilian farmers as part of deforestation, a move Bolsonaro has supported in the past.
Fernando Azevedo e Silva, Brazil’s defence minister, claimed on Monday that the country had the fires “under control,” without giving further details.
“It has been exaggerated a little that the situation was out of control – it wasn’t,” he said, according to France 24. “The situation isn’t simple but it is under control.”
The G7’s $US20 million donation was intended to finance fire-fighting aircraft, France 24 reported, citing a source close to the French presidency.
Macron has lambasted Bolsonaro for his apparent indifference over the fires.
“The Amazon forest is a subject for the whole planet,” he said Monday. “We can help you reforest. We can find the means for your economic development that respects the natural balance. But we cannot allow you to destroy everything.”
The leaders’ feud started Thursday after Macron tweeted a photo of the Amazon fires with the caption: “Our house is burning. Literally.”
Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest – the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire. It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let's discuss this emergency first order in two days! #ActForTheAmazon pic.twitter.com/dogOJj9big
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) August 22, 2019
On Sunday, Brazil’s education minister, Abraham Weintraub, called Macron an “opportunistic cretin seeking the support of the French farm lobby.”
The fires are so severe that the Amazon is losing the equivalent of three football fields a minute, according to data from Brazilian satellites.
The UK has independently pledged $US12 million in aid, and Canada $US11 million. Leonardo DiCaprio’s Earth Alliance group has donated $US5 million.
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