Bolsonaro Asks U.N. to Fight ‘Colonialist’ Macron, Environmentalists on Amazon Fires

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
AP Photo/Seth Wenig

President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil told the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday that European nations pressuring the world to violate his nation’s sovereignty in defense of the Amazon Rainforest were guilty of “colonialism” and environmentalists were guilty of viewing indigenous Brazilians as “cavemen.”

Bolsonaro addressed an audience that included German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country he specifically identified as using as much as half of its territory for agriculture, threatening its natural ecosystem. He named France along with Germany in this assessment and, although he did not name French President Emmanuel Macron, he protested against attempts at this year’s G-20 Summit to stage a global intervention on Brazil which were led by Macron.

Macron and Bolsonaro have an increasingly acrimonious relationship trigged by Macron accusing Bolsonaro of destroying the Amazon Rainforest. The relationship soured further then Bolsonaro replied to a supporters’ insults against French First Lady Brigitte Macron by laughing.

“The United Nations performed a key role in overcoming colonialism in the past,” Bolsonaro said on Tuesday. “It must not allow this mindset to come back to its halls no matter what pretext.”

Bolsonaro noted that in late August and September, early spring months in the Southern Hemisphere, fires are common in South America, both natural forest fires and artificial ones intended to clear land for farming. “There are forest fires that are part of the ordinary practice of indigenous peoples in the local populations as part of their culture,” he noted. He described global coverage of the fires this year as “sensationalist attacks” and directly rejected Macron’s description of the Amazon Rainforest as “the lungs of the world” as a “fallacy.”

“These sensationalist attacks that we have suffered coming from a large part of the international media … have aroused our patriotic sentiment,” Bolsonaro noted. “It is a fallacy to say that the Amazon is the heritage of humankind.”

“Certain countries, instead of helping, embarked on the media lies and behaved in a disrespectful manner and a colonialist spirit,” he noted.

Bolsonaro thanked American President Donald Trump personally for rejecting the “absurd proposal” of sanctioning Brazil for environmental damage proposed at the G-20 summit by Macron and other European leaders.

“My administration has solemnly committed itself to environmental preservation and sustainable development. …
Brazil is one of the world’s richest countries in biodiversity and mineral resources; our Amazonian region is larger than all of Western Europe and remains pristine … we are one of the countries that most protects the environment,” the president said.

“France and Germany use up more than 50 percent of their territories for agriculture. In contrast, Brazil uses no more than 8 percent,” Bolsonaro said. “61 percent of our territory is preserved.”

Bolsonaro insisted that the Amazon Rainforest “is not being devastated or consumed by fire” and invited attendees to visit it personally to see the reality for themselves.

Bolsonaro also condemned “radical extreme environmentalists … that are out of sync with what indigenous people truly want” for attempting to combat attempted to help indigenous communities with economic development.

“Our natives are human beings just like any of us here. They want and they deserve to enjoy the same rights as all of us,” he insisted, accusing environmentalists of having “stubbornly insisted in keeping our indigenous people living like cavemen.”

“The indigenous people do not want to be poor,” Bolsonaro said.

Elsewhere in the speech, the Brazilian president celebrated that Brazil had returned “from the brink of socialism” and warned the world that leftist ideology brings with it only “cruelty,” death, and extreme poverty. He thanked God on several occasions for his life, noting that a socialist agitator had nearly stabbed him to death a year ago.

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