Brazil: Bolsonaro bans burning to try to curb fires in the Amazon
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro signed a decree late Wednesday banning agricultural burns throughout Brazil for sixty days to try to curb the spread of fires in the Amazon in the face of increasing international pressure.
The decree, to be published Thursday in the Official Journal, suspends the use of burns during the next two months throughout the country, while maintaining certain exceptions, according to government sources cited by the Brazilian media. The forest code authorizes certain burns with the authorization of the control organisms.
Bolsonaro is facing increasing pressure, both inside and outside, after the spread of fires in the Amazon, the world's largest rainforest.
They are far from being "under control", contrary to the assertions of the government: 1,044 new fire starts were found Tuesday throughout Brazil, including more than 50% in the Amazon, said Wednesday the National Institute of Space Research ( INPE).
The number of fires since January in the country (83,329), is the highest since 2010, according to the INPE. They are often caused by farmers or cattle ranchers who want more land and the current government policy encourages.
The government has deployed more than 3,900 men, hundreds of vehicles and 18 aircraft including two Hercules water bombers, according to Ministry of Defense data quoted by local media.
A diplomatic crisis has developed between Brasilia and Paris, which threatens not to sign the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement. Bolsonaro fueled controversy Wednesday with French President Emmanuel Macron, sowing confusion over the international aid that Brazil would be ready to receive to fight against fires.
In bellicose statements after receiving Chilean President Sebastian Piñera, invited to Biarritz (France) on the sidelines of the G7 last weekend, Bolsonaro, who has still not visited the Amazon, accused Germany , and particularly France, to be buying (the) Brazilian sovereignty "with the offer of financial aid from the G7.
It was unclear whether Brazil, which rejected Tuesday the $ 20 million G7 until Macron "withdraws his insults" against Mr. Bolsonaro, then accepted it Tuesday night under certain conditions, had actually rejected again Wednesday morning.
Mr. Bolsonaro took it on Wednesday to Mr. Macron. He "called me a liar and twice said that the (Brazilian) sovereignty of the Amazon should be relativised," he told reporters. "We can talk to each other when he has retracted after what he said against me."
Mr Macron last week accused Mr Bolsonaro of "lying" about his environmental commitments. France was copiously attacked by the Brazilian government, and Bolsonaro called Macron a "colonialist" before attacking his wife Brigitte.
On Wednesday, Bolsonaro withdrew an offensive comment for Macron posted on Facebook to "avoid misinterpretation," said the spokesman for the Brazilian president.
– "Brazil is not for sale" –
To the annoyance of Brasilia, Emmanuel Macron had questioned the advisability of conferring an international status on the Amazon rainforest, in case the leaders of the region take decisions harmful to the planet.
"It is important to repeat that the Brazilian Amazon is under Brazilian sovereignty," said Bolsonaro, whose country is home to 60% of the gigantic rainforest.
"Brazil is not for sale for $ 20 million or $ 20 billion," Bolsonaro said, adding, "Brazil can accept any bilateral aid."
While raising the tone towards the European powers, Mr. Bolsonaro gets the support of its neighbors.
He accepted a proposal from Peru and Colombia for a regional summit on 6 September in Leticia, a town in the extreme south of Colombia bordering Peru and Brazil, to coordinate the preservation of the Amazon.
And on Wednesday the Chilean president announced the sending of four planes, bringing during his visit his support in Brazil. "It must be remembered that some years there have been far worse fires," he said, quoting Jair Bolsonaro. "We all love the Amazon, the nine countries (which shelter it) exercise their sovereignty there".
Border Bolivia is also experiencing dramatic fires that led to the suspension of the election campaign.
In New York, the young muse for the climate Greta Thunberg judged on Wednesday "disastrous" the fires in the Amazon and considered that it was the "clear sign that one must stop destroying the nature".