Published On: Fri, Aug 23rd, 2019

Amazon rainforest fire: Macron accused of ‘colonialist mindset’ over ‘crisis’ remark | World | News

Mr Bolsonaro in a series of tweets said: “I regret that president Macron seeks to make personal political gains in an internal matter for Brazil and other Amazonian countries. His sensationalist tone does nothing to solve the problem. The French President’s suggestion that Amazonian matters be discussed at the G7 without the involvement of countries of the region recalls the colonialist mindset that is unacceptable in the 21st century.”

Earlier in the day, M Macron joined a chorus of international outcry over the worsening fires, tweeting: “Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rainforest – the lungs which produce 20 percent of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire.”

He added: “It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let’s discuss this emergency first order in two days!” 

Onyx Lorenzoni, Mr Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, also responded angrily to what he denounced as foreign meddling, accusing European leaders of exaggerating Brazil’s environmental issues in order to disrupt its commercial interests.

Mr Lorenzoni was quoted on the Brazilian news website as saying Thursday: “There is deforestation in Brazil, yes, but not at the rate and level that they say.”

The hashtag #PrayforAmazonas was the world’s top trending topic on Twitter on Wednesday, as indignation over the international community’s slow response to the wildfires raged through social media.

Mr Bolsonaro, a long-time sceptic of environmental concerns, sparked outrage after he openly accused non-governmental organisations of burning down the Amazon in a bid to undermine his government.

The Brazilian nationalist said on Wednesday there was a “very strong” indication that some NGOs could be starting blazes in retaliation for losing state funds under his administration.

Mr Bolsonaro said in a Facebook Live broadcast that “everything indicates” that NGOs are “setting fire” to the forest,. 

He added: “Crime exists. These people are missing the money.”

Asked if he had any evidence to support his claims, he said he had “no written plan,” adding “that’s not how it’s done”.

Relations between France and Brazil first showed signs of cooling in June, when Mr Macron warned he would not sign the draft EU-Mercosur trade agreement if Mr Bolsonaro pulled Brazil out of the Paris climate accord.

M Macron said: “If Brazil left the Paris accord, as far as we are concerned, we would not sign a trade deal with them.

“For a simple reason. We’re asking our farmers to stop using pesticides, we’re asking our companies to produce less carbon, all that has a competitiveness cost.” 

Trade talks between Brussels and the Mercosur group of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, the world’s fourth-biggest trade bloc, have intensified in recent months, with the EU calling the treaty’s speedy ratification a “number one priority”.

France, in particular, is worried about the impact on its vast farming industry of South American imports that would not have to respect the EU’s strict environmental rules.

However, France has not blocked trade negotiations with Mercosur because the necessary majority of EU member states back the deal.

Brazil contains about 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest, and its degradation could have severe consequences for global climate and rainfall.

Mr Bolsonaro, for his part, wants to open the Amazon to more agriculture and mining and convert land for cattle pastures and soybean farms. 

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