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G7’s Amazon aid plan treats region like a ‘colony’, Bolsonaro says

Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro may visit the Amazon this week to check on the efforts to reduce forest fires, after saying G7 offers to help would leave his country treated like “a colony or no man’s land”.

Mr Bolsonaro, a right-wing leader who wants to open the Amazon to more farming and mining, said on Twitter that Emmanuel Macron’s initiative was an attack on Brazil’s sovereignty.

It followed the French President’s announcement at the G7 summit he hosted in Biarritz that the Group of Seven had agreed on a $20m (£16m) firefighting fund as well as a long-term initiative to protect the rainforest.

Image: There have been more than 26,000 wildfires across Brazil in August

Mr Bolsonaro tweeted: “We cannot accept that a president, Macron, unleashes unreasonable attacks on the Amazon, nor disguises his intentions behind the idea of ​​an ‘alliance’ of the G-7 countries to ‘save’ the Amazon, as if we were a colony or a no man’s land.

“Other heads of state sympathised with Brazil, after all respect for the sovereignty of any country is the least that can be expected in a civilised world.”


The pair also had a war of words after Mr Bolsonaro appeared to mock the French first lady’s looks.

Image: Large areas have been reduced to ash

Brazil’s spokesman Otavio Rego Barros said after the summit that Mr Bolsonaro may go to the region later this week to check on the efforts to reduce the fire, and said Chile and Ecuador had offered aircraft to help.

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A record number of blazes have gripped the rainforest, drawing international concern because of the Amazon’s importance to the global environment.

Why you should care about the Amazon – in numbers

The announcement came from Mr Macron and the Chilean President Sebastian Pinera.

The plan decided at the G7 will be implemented in two stages, said Mr Pinera.

“Countries urgently need firefighters and specialised water bombers. This will be the first step that will be implemented immediately,” he said.

Image: Mr Macron and Mr Pinera made the announcement together

“The second phase is to protect these forests, protect the biodiversity they contain and reforest this region of the world.”

Mr Macron added that the G7 – which comprises the US, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Britain and Canada – would draw up an initiative for the Amazon that will be launched at next month’s UN General Assembly in New York.

Canada is also offering to help by sending water bombers as well as a financial contribution of $15m dollars.

Listen to “Amazon rainforest wildfires: “Our house is burning”” on Spreaker.

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Speaking after the summit, Mr Macron said: “The Amazon forest is a subject for the whole planet. We can help you reforest. We can find the means for your economic development that respects the natural balance. But we cannot allow you to destroy everything.”

The French president also acknowledged that his country had not been without blame because it imports soya from Brazil, adding to agricultural pressure on the rainforest. He said he respected the sovereignty of Brazil.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “We could pretend that the situation in the Amazon is just part of a natural cycle. But that’s not exactly what’s going on here.”

The scale of the fires has shocked the world. This weekend a foundation backed by Leonardo DiCaprio pledged $5m in aid to the Amazon.


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