Amazon Fires: Brazil’s Bolsonaro Urges Macron to Stop Meddling After He Threatens to Veto Trade Deal

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gestures during the International Youth Day celebration

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has urged French leader Emmanuel Macron to “keep [his] nose out” of his country’s affairs as fires continue to ravage the Amazon rainforest at alarming intensity.

According to data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (NISR), which monitors deforestation and wildfires, around 74,000 fires have occurred across the Amazon rainforest in 2019, an 84 percent increase from the same period in 2018.

Macron took to Twitter on Thursday to express concern about the fires that have reached a record number this year, devastating vast swathes of forest long described as the “lungs of the earth.”

“Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest – the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire,” Macron wrote on Twitter. “It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let’s discuss this emergency first order in two days”:

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Elysée Palace said that “in light of Brazil’s attitude these recent weeks Macron can only conclude that President Bolsonaro lied to him during the Osaka Summit” in June where world leaders agreed on the “urgent need” to combat climate change, pollution, and environmental destruction.

“The decisions and statements from Brazil these recent weeks show clearly that President Bolsonaro has decided to not respect his commitments on the climate, nor to involve himself on the issue of biodiversity,” the spokesperson said.

As a consequence, Macron now plans to veto any trade deal “in its current state” between the European Union and the Mercosur bloc of South American nations including Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

Posting on Facebook, Bolsonaro accused Macron of making “personal political gains in an internal matter for Brazil and other Amazonian countries,” adding that “the sensationalist tone he used does nothing to solve the problem.”

“These countries that send money here, they don’t send it out of charity,” he said. “They send it with the aim of interfering with our sovereignty.”

Yet amid rising international pressure, the 63-year-old former army captain reportedly signed an executive order deploying the military to help reduce the wildfires, which he previously blamed on NGOs who were seeking to undermine his administration.

“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?” Bolsonaro told reporters in Brasilia. “Maybe — I am not affirming it — these (NGOs) are carrying out some criminal actions to draw attention against me, against the government of Brazil.  This is the war we are facing.”

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