Brazil faces international backlash over Amazon fires, deforestation | Public Radio International

A tract of the Amazon jungle burns as it is cleared in Iranduba, Amazonas state, Brazil, on Aug. 22, 2019.

Credit: Bruno Kelly/Reuters

PRI’s The World August 23, 2019 · 4:45 PM EDT By The World staff

Amid growing global condemnation, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said on Friday he may mobilize the army to help combat a record number of fires sweeping through the Amazon rainforest.

The Trump administration said it was “deeply concerned” about the wildfires and European leaders ratcheted up criticism of Brazil’s handling of the crisis, which now looks set to be discussed at a summit of G7 leaders in France this weekend.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s office went so far as to accuse Bolsonaro of lying when he downplayed concerns over climate change at the G20 summit in June, and said that France would now oppose the farming deal struck in June between the European Union and the Mercosur countries of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

Related: The Amazon used to be a hedge against climate change. Those days may be over.

Stung by the international outcry, Brazil distributed a 12-page circular, exclusively seen by Reuters, to foreign embassies, outlining data and statistics defending the government’s reputation on the environment.

Having first dismissed the fires as natural, then blaming nongovernmental organizations without evidence for lighting them, Bolsonaro struck a more serious note on Friday, saying he would summon top cabinet members to tailor a response.

Related: Indigenous tribes are the last best hope for the Amazon

Asked by reporters in Brasília if he would send in the army, he said, “That is the expectation.”

A government spokesman in Germany called the wildfires “shocking and threatening, not only for Brazil.”

The World’s Marco Werman spoke to Oliver Stuenkel, a professor at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation in São Paulo, about the global and Brazilian reactions to the fires.

…(read more).

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