Brazil angrily rejects millions in Amazon aid pledged at G-7

click to enlarge A forest fire in the Amazon near Porto Velho, Rondonia, Brazil, Aug. 26, 2019. President Jair Bolsonaro suggested that he would reconsider accepting aid for the Amazon if President Emmanuel Macron of France withdrew “insults made to my person.” - VICTOR MORIYAMA/THE NEW YORK TIMES
Victor Moriyama/The New York Times
A forest fire in the Amazon near Porto Velho, Rondonia, Brazil, Aug. 26, 2019. President Jair Bolsonaro suggested that he would reconsider accepting aid for the Amazon if President Emmanuel Macron of France withdrew “insults made to my person.”
By Manuela Andreoni
The New York Times Company


RIO DE JANEIRO — Hours after leaders of some of the world’s wealthiest countries pledged more than $22 million to help combat fires in the Amazon rainforest, Brazil’s government angrily rejected the offer — only to later lay out potential terms for the aid’s acceptance.

President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil expressed his ire in a series of Twitter posts Monday, extending his verbal feud with President Emmanuel Macron of France, who had announced the aid package at the Group of 7 summit.


But early the next day, Bolsonaro offered possible terms for its acceptance. If Macron withdrew what he called personal insults and insinuations that Brazil does not have sovereignty over the Amazon, he said, he would reconsider.

More than 26,000 forest fires have been recorded in the Amazon rainforest this month, the highest number in a decade, setting off outrage and calls for more protections. The forests absorb a significant share of the planet’s climate-warming carbon dioxide, are home to indigenous peoples and are a vital habitat for endangered species.

Bolsonaro, who had suggested Macron’s real motive was to shield France’s agriculture from Brazilian competition, had tweeted Monday that the president “disguises his intentions behind the idea of an ‘alliance’ of the G7 countries to ‘save’ the Amazon, as if we were a colony or a no-man’s land.”

President Donald Trump praised Bolsonaro on Tuesday, posting on Twitter, “He is working very hard on the Amazon fires and in all respects doing a great job for the people of Brazil — Not easy. He and his country have the full and complete support of the USA!”


Bolsonaro has been criticized by environmentalists for calls to open up protected parts of the Amazon rainforest to logging, farming, mining and other development, which many say has caused further exploitation of the region. The illegally set fires and resulting deforestation, critics say, are being driven by his policies.

On Tuesday, Bolsonaro and members of his Cabinet met with governors from all nine states that make up Brazil’s Amazon region to discuss the fire and offers of aid.

Some governors made clear they supported Bolsonaro’s drive to develop the Amazon and complained that too much of their states’ territories were blocked off as indigenous and environmental reserves, hampering their growth.

Others were more concerned with securing the help offered by the G-7 countries and with bolstering diplomacy.

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