Brazil's president tells Macron to take back 'insults' in Amazon wildfire row

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will only accept £18 million in aid to fight Amazon wildfires if French leader Emmanuel Macron takes backs back his ‘insults’.

He said Macron had called him a liar and accused the French president of questioning Brazil’s sovereignty as the country’s rainforest keeps on burning.

It comes after Brazil’s government rejected the offer of $20 million in aid from the G7 states, and Bolsonaro told Macron to ‘take care of his home and his colonies instead’.

Bolsonaro told reporters: ‘First of all, Macron has to withdraw his insults. He called me a liar.

‘Before we talk or accept anything from France… he must withdraw these words then we can talk.

‘First he withdraws, then offers, then I will answer.’

The two statesmen have been embroiled in a feud in which Bolsonaro mocked Macron over the Notre Dame inferno and making derogatory comments about his wife Brigitte.

Nearly 80,000 forest fires have broken out in Brazil since the beginning of the year and deforestation shot up by 67 per cent in the first seven months of 2019.

But Bolsonaro has shrugged the alarming figures off, claiming it is the time of year when farmers always clear their land with fire.

He even suggested that environmentalists and NGOs could be starting the fires to ‘make him look bad’, without giving any proof to reporters.

He said offers of aid from the rich countries would leave his country like ‘a colony or a no man’s land’ and has accused the west of angling to exploit Brazil’s natural resources.

In his bid to expand the country’s economy no matter the cost, the populist leader has vowed to develop the protected Amazon region for farming and mining, despite international outrage.

Macron, who has questioned Bolsonaro’s commitment to protecting biodiversity, has shrugged off his latest snub.

In a speech today, the French leader said Bolsonaro’s interpretation that he is undermining Brazil’s sovereignty is a ‘mistake’.

He said the G7 aid money, which was offered in addition to $12 million from Britain and $11 million from Canada, is not just aimed at Brazil.

Macron said nine countries in the Amazon region including Columbia and Bolivia will also benefit from the money.

France also considers itself an Amazon country due to its overseas region of French Guiana.

Under international pressure to act, Bolsonaro said he might visit the Amazon region this week to check on firefighting efforts and would make 44,000 troops available to fight the blazes.

But the military presence in the area seemed scarce on Monday with only a few soldiers seen patrolling roads and lending a hand.

As the public watch the rainforest burn in horror, a surge of internet users are now using the Ecosia search engine, which uses its advertising revenue to fund the planting of millions of trees.

Chief executive Christian Kroll told the non-profit organisation has ‘mixed feelings’ about their recent 1,000 per cent influx of users

He said it was ‘great for us and great for the planet because it needs many many more trees’ but said the reason behind all of the attention is ‘sad’.

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