‘The Amazon is not on fire’: Brazilian leader Bolsonaro lashes out over criticism

‘It’s by definition a tropical rainforest. It cannot possibly be caught on fire,’ president falsely claims

Zamira Rahim
Wednesday 30 October 2019 16:58 GMT
Brazilian Air Force spray water over Amazon fires

Jair Bolsonaro has defended his far-right government’s policies in a furious speech in which he appeared to claim the Amazon rainforest could not catch fire.

The controversial Brazilian president attacked his critics in remarks delivered during a trip to Saudi Arabia.

“The Amazon region belongs to us,” the 64-year-old said at one point.

“The Amazon region is not on fire, it’s not catching fire.

“It’s by definition a tropical rainforest. It cannot possibly be caught on fire.”

The Brazilian president said he was “accused of being an incendiary and a deforester”.

Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), which tracks blazes in the Amazon, reported the number of fires detected was up by nearly 50 per cent from the same period in 2018.

The devastating fires have prompted global concern over the Amazon, which provides 20 per cent of the world’s oxygen supply.

The largest rainforest in the world, it is vital for slowing down the pace of global warming.

Some of the fires were man made and created by farmers seeking to clear land.

The fires have lessened in intensity since the crisis attracted international attention in August but some continue to rage, according to WWF.

Mr Bolsonaro faced global criticism this summer for his response to the environmental crisis.

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Critics said the president had tacitly encouraged farmers and illegal loggers to clear the land.

During his speech the far-right leader attacked Emmanuel Macron, the French president, for raising the crisis at a recent G7 summit.

Mr Bolsonaro said farmers in the Amazon “no longer want to be treated consistently as if they are cave men or women or prehistoric human beings”, according to NBC News.

The Brazilian president also said he would like his country to become a member of OPEC, the oil cartel led by Saudi Arabia.

He was speaking at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Additional reporting by agencies

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