Published On: Thu, Aug 29th, 2019

Amazon fires: French MEP accuses Macron of being an ‘arrogant lesson-giver’ over Brazil | World | News

Mr Mariani, a senior member of France’s far-right Rassemblement national (RN) party, told the French news channel LCI: “In international relations, Emmanuel Macron constantly acts like an arrogant lesson-giver.” The 41-year-old centrist’s attitude has “embroiled France” in bitter disputes with “several countries,” he added. Brazil’s far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro accused Western states of “buying” the Latin American country’s sovereignty with Amazon fire aid after G7 leaders pledged $20million (£16.3million) to help combat the blazes ravaging an area often dubbed the “lungs of the world”. 

The offer, initiated by Mr Macron, has stirred up mixed emotions within Mr Bolsonaro’s populist government. Some officials are grateful for the help, while others view it as foreign meddling designed to undermine Brazil’s control of its lands.

Mr Bolsonaro has since waded into a very public dispute with the French leader, denouncing his plan for an international alliance to protect the Amazon and condemning his “colonialist mindset”.

Mr Macron, for his part, has led criticisms of Brazil’s environmental practices, blaming Mr Bolsonaro for the Amazon wildfires and accusing him of lying about his commitments on climate change.

The war of words between the two leaders got personal after Mr Bolsonaro mocked the French first lady’s looks on Facebook. Mr Macron slammed the comments as “extremely disrespectful” to his 66-year-old wife, adding that Brazilian women were “probably ashamed” of their leader.

After initially rejecting the G7’s offer, Mr Bolsonaro said he was open to accepting it but only if Mr Macron retracted his “insults” against him. 

He told reporters on Tuesday: “He called me a liar. Before we talk or accept anything from France … he must withdraw these words.”

He reiterated his demand for an apology the following day, saying: “Only after he withdraws what he said … can we talk again. 

“It seems that $20million is our price. Brazil doesn’t have a price tag of 20 million or 20 trillion – it’s the same thing for us.” 

The Bolsonaro government has also stressed that that it would only accept foreign aid on the condition that it controlled the money.

Seeking to defuse tensions, Mr Bolsonaro’s spokesman Otávio do Rego Barros said later on Wednesday that the controversial comments about Brigitte Macron had been removed from Facebook “to avoid all misinterpretation”.

Mr Bolsonaro has drawn global criticism for his slow response to the fires, which threaten what many view as a key bulwark against global climate change.

Since taking office in January, he has taken steps to loosen Brazil’s environmental laws and announced plans to develop the Amazon region, moves environmentalists say have encouraged speculators to burn vegetation to clear land in hopes of selling it to farmers and ranchers. 

However, in an apparent bid to silence critics, the Brazilian government said on Thursday it would ban farmers from burning forests for 60 days, with some exceptions for approved agricultural and forestry practices.

The number of wildfires in Brazil has skyrocketed 80 percent in the year to date compared to the same period in 2018, according to data from the space research agency INPE. 

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