Far from taking any responsibility for the fires raging in the Amazon, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is putting the blame on non-governmental, environmental organizations. Without any supporting evidence, he alleges that they intentionally started the fires to punish him for cutting their funding.
While speaking at a steel industry conference, he said, “On the question of burning in the Amazon, which in my opinion may have been initiated by NGOs because they lost money, what is the intention? To bring problems to Brazil.” He first uttered the claim on a Facebook Live broadcast on Wednesday, saying “everything indicates” that NGOs were responsible, though failed to supply any evidence. When asked for proof, he replied that it was just his feelings.
The NGOs hit back, with Marcio Astrini of Greenpeace Brazil saying, “This is a sick statement, a pitiful statement. Increased deforestation and burning are the result of his anti-environmental policy.”
Indeed, many of the fires are said to have been started by those clearing land for farming and logging — an initiative begun by Bolsonaro, who wants to use the rainforest for industrial activity.
So far, there has been around 73,000 fires in Brazil in 2019, which is nearly double that of 2018. More than half of them have been in the Amazon.
The Amazon provides over 20 percent of the world’s oxygen, but Bolsonaro, who calls climate change a hoax, thinks efforts to curb deforestation of the rainforest are foreign attempts to halt Brazil’s economic development.