Jair Bolsonaro has ordered the armed forces to help combat fires raging in the Amazon rainforest, Times of Israel reported. Brazil, the world’s fifth-largest country by both area and population, really needs support in fighting the fires in the world’s largest rainforest.
The growing global outcry over the blazes sparks protests and threatens a huge trade deal. On Friday, after a late-night crisis meeting with members of his cabinet, Bolsonaro issued a decree permitting the deployment of armed forces to help extinguish fires and crackdown on criminal activities in the region.
For the past three weeks, huge chunks of this climate-critical forest have been on fire in the northern part of Brazil. The local population say that it’s not normal and it’s like this because of the smoke from the fires.
The scientists say the fires have accompanied a rapid rate of deforestation in the Amazon region, which in July quadrupled compared to the same month in 2018, according to INPE data, which Bolsonaro previously described as lies and prompted the sacking of the agency’s head.
Amazon wildfires as an “international crisis”
The fires in the world’s largest rainforest have sparked street protests around the planet and ignited a war of words between Bolsonaro and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, who vowed to block a trade agreement between the European Union and South American countries until Amazon fires end. Brazil’s leader insisted that the fires should not be used as an excuse to punish Brazil.
Bolsonaro’s decision came as demonstrations are held around the world over the fires in the Amazon forest, a region considered the “lungs of the planet” and seen as crucial to keeping climate change in check.
Several thousand protesters marched in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, amid growing European pressure as well as offers to help put out the fires from US President Donald Trump and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Macron accuses Bolsonaro of lies
France will now block a trade deal between the European Union and the South American trade bloc MRECOSUR, which includes Brazil, a French presidential official said.
Ireland also supported France, and Finland said it would propose to EU countries that they stop importing Brazilian beef. Meanwhile, Jair Bolsonaro said that Amazon cannot be used “as a pretext for possible international sanctions”.
Macron had tweeted Thursday that the fires burning in the Amazon amount to an international crisis and should be discussed as a top priority when the G7 countries meet this weekend in France. Bolsonaro then blasted Macron as having a “colonialist mentality.”
Bolsonaro instead attributes the blazes to increased drought and accuses environmental groups and NGOs of whipping up an “environmental psychosis” to harm Brazil’s economic interests. Earlier in the week, Brazilian president accused NGOs of starting the fires.
Amazon fires made Brazil an international pariah, while the Brazilian leader had given “ammunition” to countries opposed to the EU-Mercosur deal. The mayor of Manaus, Brazil’s largest city in the Amazon, told reporters Friday the rainforest was “fundamental for the world.”