Bolsonaro Government Throws Tantrum, Says It Won't Accept Amazon Firefighting Funds

Fires burning in Jacunda National Forest, near the city of Porto Velho in the Vila Nova Samuel region of Brazil, on Aug. 26, 2019.
Fires burning in Jacunda National Forest, near the city of Porto Velho in the Vila Nova Samuel region of Brazil, on Aug. 26, 2019.
Photo: Eraldo Peres (AP)

Brazilian president and far-right climate denier Jair Bolsonaro won’t even accept the paltry $20 million that G7 countries pledged towards creating a fund to “help Amazon countries fight wildfires and launch a long-term global initiative to protect the rainforest,” Bolsonaro’s chief of staff Onyx Lorenzoni told Globo on Monday.

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“We appreciate it, but maybe these resources would be put to better use reforesting Europe,” Lorenzoni told reporters, according to a translation in the Daily Beast. He then threw in a barb about French President Emmanuel Macron and the fire that swept the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris this year, saying “Macron can’t even prevent a foreseeable fire in a church that is a world heritage site. What does he want to teach our country? He has plenty to take care of at home and in the French colonies.”

Bolsonaro’s government has come under withering international criticism over wildfires ravaging the Amazon rainforest, with well over 70,000 such blazes (80 percent more than last year) documented by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research. While all available evidence indicates the fires are the result of Bolsonaro gutting environmental agencies responsible for preventing illegal land clearance, Bolsonaro repeatedly dismissed them as a non-issue before he pivoted to cooking up conspiracy theories blaming NGOs.

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The Amazon is one of the most important ecosystems in the world, and scientists fear that its continued deforestation could push it closer to a tipping point in which the remaining portion could wither and die—with potentially dire effects on the Earth’s already rapidly changing climate. And as for colonialism, indigenous groups, humanitarian organizations, and environmental activists have sounded the alarm that the forest’s continued destruction is a form of genocide, with a coalition of such groups recently pointing the finger at Bolsonaro and Bolivian President Evo Morales in an open letter to the United Nations’ human and indigenous rights offices. As the Beast noted, Brazilian Environment Minister Ricardo Salles had previously told reporters that Bolsonaro would accept the funds.

Macron has called the fires a global crisis, leading to a growing feud between him and Bolsonaro. According to the Associated Press, Macron said at the G7 summit on Monday (local time) that his message to the Brazilian leader is “We respect your sovereignty. It’s your country... But we cannot allow you to destroy everything.”

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DISCUSSION

Guy is an asshole, international efforts have to get inside his brain to understand how to deal with him.

He has a pro-militaristic, proto-dictator, self centered, religious demagogue, ignorant mindset. He aligns himself with Trump, he several times said we need to invest more in the military, and he has this self-righteous stance on everything. But he is a democratically elected president, and there is no way around this.

Other politicians giving political positions and benefiting family members was nepotism, but when he does it, it’s just putting reliable people for the job. Just another corrupt politician walking the same steps of his predecessors. The only difference is the aggressive ignorance.

International help offers will always be seen with suspicion, just because he perceives it as weaking his position, and he does not want to create relations of dependancy with other countries. And then, he’s just another asshole with the fake news rhetoric. He will, the same way other politicians did, accuse international and national news of persecution, of hating Brazil, of not giving him credit for stuff he didn’t do, and a whole bunch of other crap. He will always attempt to attack in kind the flaws that people point out about his administration. Nothing productive will come out of discussions that starts by criticizing some aspect of his administration, because he’s that kind of guy.

The way to help the Amazon right now is to go around government, create relationships with local NGOs that are reliable, transparent, and willing to be under international supervision, and just keep it going that way. Skip politicians altogether, help private organizations that are taking an active part in the region. By the way, this has always been how most good things in Brazil works. By ignoring as much as possible a deeply corrupt, deeply divided, disfunctional public sector. People that takes scientific reasoning and critical thinking here are far and few between, the country isn’t as progressive and libertarian as it might seen at first, and so foreign powers and companies trying to do business or promote good efforts here have to go around actively looking for key people and key companies willing to collaborate properly.

The Amazon region in Brazil has been historically ignored, abandoned and poor. It needs money more than the president needs condemnation for his idiocy. And it’ll be more effective too. Money and power in Brazil has been long concentrated on the southernmost regions, extreme poverty struck parts of Brazil are the northernmost states, so any sort of international help is actually pretty welcome there. Some of the most humble, hard working people are there, but they need the support.

In fact, it has always been the better route for Brazil. Anything that the government touches is subject to corruption, mismanagement or getting lost on bureaucratic venues - so instead of focusing so much attention on how useless our president is, other countries should divert their attention on groups inside Brazil that are actually working. You will gain nothing by publishing multiple pieces about the crap that Bolsonaro said. He’s been extremely unpopular from start outside specific circles.

I’ll also add for the international viewer that you should all also skip local politicians. They can sometimes be worse than the president himself, particularly in poor region of Brazil like the nothern states. While white collar crimes are prevalent in southern states, up in the north you have crimes ranging from drug trafficking to outright assassination of politicial opposition and press. That’s how bad it is.

Much like Trump, Bolsonaro has been populating all levels of power with people like himself. And the cult of personality spreads around, with a portion of the electorate defending him as if he was some sort of God. It has always been a bad take for brazilian politics, and I don’t expect this to change anytime soon. The previous election more than proven to me that people will always go for cult of personality here. Realistic propositions never matter, it’s just about who shouts louder.

For problems that are as urgent as defending the Amazon forest, there’s no time to waste with proto-dictators and demagogues. Offering money to Brazil government, even if it was taken, would result in nothing. Go for the public universities in the region that has research groups and teams working hands on with the problem. They will know where to direct the money better. And be quick about it because even education and research is being heavily underfunded to the point of extinction. They will soon not be there anymore to collaborate with efforts.