• Today
    September 21

  • 08:03 AM

Bolsonaro says Brazil lacks resources to fight Amazon fires

REUTERS,

Added 23 August 2019

fires-in-brazil-082319

Smoke billows during a fire in an area of the Amazon rainforest near Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil, Brazil August 21, 2019. (Reuters)

SAO PAULO/BRASILIA – The Brazilian government lacks the resources to fight a record number of wildfires burning in the Amazon rainforest, President Jair Bolsonaro said on Thursday, weeks after telling donors he did not need their money.

“The Amazon is bigger than Europe, how will you fight criminal fires in such an area?” he asked reporters as he left the presidential residence. “We do not have the resources for that.”

Fires in the Amazon have surged 83 per cent so far this year compared with the same period a year earlier, government figures show, destroying vast swathes of a forest considered a vital bulwark against climate change.

Although fires are a regular and natural occurrence during the regular dry season at this time of year, environmentalists blamed the sharp rise on farmers setting the forest alight to clear land for pasture.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on his twitter account the fires in the Amazon forest are an international emergency and should be discussed by the G7 summit that will begin on Saturday in Biarritz, France.

Federal prosecutors in Brazil said they are investigating a spike in deforestation and wildfires raging in the Amazon state of Pará to determine whether there has been reduced monitoring and enforcement of environmental protections there.

Prosecutors also said they will investigate an ad reportedly published by a local newspaper last week encouraging farmers to participate in a “Fire Day”, in which they would burn large areas of forest “to show Bolsonaro their willingness to work”.

The probe is being led by prosecutors in the cities of Santarém, Itaituba, Altamira and Belém.

On Wednesday, Bolsonaro said, without supporting evidence, that non-governmental organizations were behind the fires.

Questioned again on Thursday about those comments, he said he could not prove that NGOs, for whom he has cut funding, were lighting the fires but that they were “the most likely suspects”.

The firebrand right-wing president has repeatedly said he believes Brazil should open the Amazon up to business interests, to allow mining and logging companies to exploit its natural resources.

“As NGOs lose funding . . . . What can they do?” he asked. “Try to take me down, try to take me down. That’s all that’s left for them to do.”

Brazil is facing growing international criticism over its handling of the Amazon, 60 per cent of which lies in the country.

Earlier this month, Norway and Germany suspended funding for projects to curb deforestation in Brazil after becoming alarmed by changes to the way projects were selected under Bolsonaro.

At the time, when asked about the loss of German funding, Bolsonaro said “Brazil does not need that”.

Other officials have expressed concern over the fires.

Brazil’s lower house speaker, Rodrigo Maia, said on Twitter he would create “an external committee” to monitor the burning of the rainforest. He also vowed to form a group “to evaluate the situation and propose solutions to the government”.

The Bishops Conference for Latin America expressed concern about what it called “a tragedy”, and on Thursday called on countries to take immediate action to protect the rainforest and the communities that live in and around it.

“We urge the governments of the Amazon countries, especially Brazil and Bolivia, the United Nations and the international community to take serious measures to save the world’s lungs,” the Bishops Conference said.

“If the Amazon suffers, the world suffers,” the statement said. (Reuters)

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Dos and Donts


Welcome to our discussion forum here on nationnews.com. We encourage lively debate, but we also urge you to take note of the following:

  • Stay on topic – This helps keep the thread focused on the discussion at hand. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article.
  • Be respectful – Meeting differences of opinion with civil discussion encourages multiple perspectives and a positive commenting environment.
  • Do not type in capitals – In addition to being considered “shouting” it is also difficult to read.
  • All comments will be moderated – Given the volume of comments each day, this may take some time. So please be patient.
  • We reserve the right to remove comments – Comments that we find to be abusive, spam, libellous, hateful, off-topic or harassing may be removed.
  • Reproduction of comments – Some of your comments may be reproduced on the website or in our daily newspapers. We will use the handle, not your email address.
  • Do not advertise – Please contact our Advertising Department.
  • Contact our Online Editor if you have questions or concerns.
  • Read our full Commenting Policy and Terms of Use.
comments powered by Disqus

POLL

Do you believe there should be staggered hours to start and end school?

Yes
No

FRONT COVER OF TODAY'S NEWSPAPER

CARTOON

INSTAGRAM