President Trump on Tuesday praised Brazilian far-right president Jair Bolsonaro for the work he’s done for the “people of Brazil” just hours after his administration rejected $20 million in foreign aid to combat a surge in wildfires that have ravaged the Amazon rainforest.
“I have gotten to know President @jairbolsonaro well in our dealings with Brazil,” Trump tweeted of the populist leader who has been dubbed “Trump of the Tropics.”
“He is working very hard on the Amazon fires and in all respects doing a great job for the people of Brazil - Not easy. He and his country have the full and complete support of the USA!” Trump added.
I have gotten to know President @jairbolsonaro well in our dealings with Brazil. He is working very hard on the Amazon fires and in all respects doing a great job for the people of Brazil - Not easy. He and his country have the full and complete support of the USA!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2019
Trump’s remarks came the same day Brazil rejected a $20 million aid package from Group of Seven (G-7) nations to battle wildfires in the country.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced the aid package on the final day of the G-7 Summit in Biarritz, France, saying that the Amazon rainforest fires posed “dire” consequences internationally.
Trump was not in attendance during the climate change session where the aid was agreed to.
Brazil’s Ambassador to France Luís Fernando Serra said that the country would not accept the assistance because it was agreed to without the Bolsonaro administration’s approval.
“We refuse because we see interference. [It’s] help we didn’t ask for,” he told French TV. “The G-7 help was decided without Brazil.”
Onyx Lorenzoni, Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, told Globo news website that “maybe those resources are more relevant to reforest Europe.”
“Macron cannot even avoid a predictable fire in a church that is part of the world’s heritage, and he wants to give us lessons for our country?” Lorenzoni added, referring to the fire at Notre Dame in Paris earlier this year.
The Hill reports:
Bolsonaro has faced mounting scrutiny from Macron and other international leaders in light of the uptick in wildfires in the Amazon. Brazil’s space research center, the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), released data last week showing that wildfires had reached a record high in the country, with a majority sparking in the Amazon.
Environmentalists have argued that the substantial increase in fires stems from Bolsonaro’s commitment to using the Amazon for commercial development. He arrived in office in January vowing to limit fines for damaging forest, and has presided over a substantial increase in the rate of deforestation in the country.
Bolsonaro and his administration have forcefully pushed back against criticism from other leaders. The far-right leader last week accused Macron of trying to exploit issues related to the Amazon for political gain. He also claimed that Macron’s attempt to address the issue without Brazil’s presence represented a colonialist mindset.
“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,” Bolsonaro told reporters, Reuters reported. “First he withdraws, then offers [aid], then I will answer.”