Bolsonaro Defiant As Amazon Fires Raise Global Alarm

The New York Times reports:

As dozens of fires scorched large swaths of the Amazon, the Brazilian government on Thursday struggled to contain growing global outrage over its environmental policies, which have paved the way for runaway deforestation of the world’s largest rain forest.

The fires, many intentionally set, are spreading as Germany and Norway appear to be on the brink of shutting down a $1.2 billion conservation initiative for the Amazon.

Concern over the environmental policies of President Jair Bolsonaro, which have prioritized the interests of industries that want greater access to protected lands, has also put in jeopardy a trade agreement the European Union and a handful of South American nations struck in June, following decades of negotiations.

France 24 reports:

French President Emmanuel Macron called the wildfires an international crisis and said the leaders of the Group of 7 nations should hold urgent discussions about them at their summit in France this weekend.

“Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest–the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen–is on fire,” Macron tweeted.

Bolsonaro fired back with his own tweet: “I regret that Macron seeks to make personal political gains in an internal matter for Brazil and other Amazonian countries. The sensationalist tone he used does nothing to solve the problem.”

The International Business Times reports:

Amid growing global concern about the burning Amazon, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro remained defiant in accepting the seriousness of the issue and asked the rest of the world to not interfere in their national matters.

In a live Facebook broadcast, Bolsonaro reacted angrily to the so-called meddlers who tried to intervene in Brazil’s sovereignty.

“These countries that send money here, they don’t send it out of charity. They send it with the aim of interfering with our sovereignty,” he said, in reference to the aid coming in to help Brazil cope with the crisis. Bolsonaro himself had said earlier on Thursday that Brazil did not have the resources to fight the “criminal fires” in Amazon.

The Guardian reports:

The Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, has accused environmental groups of setting fires in the Amazon as he tries to deflect growing international criticism of his failure to protect the world’s biggest rainforest.

A surge of fires in several Amazonian states this month followed reports that farmers were feeling emboldened to clear land for crop fields and cattle ranches because the new Brazilian government was keen to open up the region to economic activity.

“On the question of burning in the Amazon, which in my opinion may have been initiated by NGOs because they lost money, what is the intention? To bring problems to Brazil,” the president told a steel industry congress in Brasilia.