Sunday, August 25, 2019

Brazil's Far-right President Facing International Backlash Over Devastating Amazon Fire
Morning Star, UK

FAR-RIGHT Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is facing an international backlash over the devastating fires destroying large swathes of the Amazon rainforest.

French President Emmanuel Macron accused Mr Bolsonaro of lying when he committed Brazil to meeting global climate-change targets.

Mr Macron and Irish Premier Leo Varadkar warned that they will not ratify a trade deal between the European Union and the Mercosur bloc of South American countries, which includes Brazil, until Mr Bolsonaro commits to protect the environment.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the fires an “acute emergency … shocking and threatening not only for Brazil and the other affected countries but also for the whole world.”

Harrowing pictures have drawn global attention to the conflagrations in Brazil, where large parts of the Amazon rainforest – known as the lungs of the world because of its trees’ important role in absorbing cardon dioxide and producing oxygen – are being burnt down.

Mr Bolsonaro is being accused of responsibility because he came to power promising to cut legislation protecting the Amazon rainforest.

Earlier this week, he sought to blame environmental NGOs for the fires, accusing them of arson because they have lost international financing and want to hurt him.

On Wednesday, the president claimed that local governors hostile to him were letting the devastation happen.

“Look, there is a governor – I don’t want to say his name – who is colluding with what is happening and blames it on the federal government,” Mr Bolsonaro said, adding that “in the northern region [of Brazil], there are states, which I don’t want to mention, where the governor is not even moving a shovel to help fight fire. He is enjoying it.”

According to National Institute for Space Research (INPE) data, the cumulative number of forest fires increased by 70 per cent between January and this month compared with the same period of last year.

About 52 per cent of those fires occurred in the Amazon and 31 per cent in El Cerrado, a vast tropical savanna extending over five states.

Nonetheless, Mr Bolsonaro sacked INPE chief Ricardo Galvao at the beginning of August, claiming that he had manipulated the statistics to exaggerate the scale of the destruction.

Mr Galvao hit back on Thursday, saying: “The leader of any country should be aware that in scientific matters there is no authority above the sovereignty of science” and that the attacks on the institute had “backfired on the government.”

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