Trump praises Bolsonaro's efforts to combat Amazon rainforest fires after Brazil rejects aid

Trump praises Bolsonaro's efforts to combat Amazon rainforest fires after Brazil rejects aid
© Stefani Reynolds

President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse panel approves 0.5B defense policy bill House panel votes against curtailing Insurrection Act powers after heated debate House panel votes to constrain Afghan drawdown, ask for assessment on 'incentives' to attack US troops MORE on Tuesday voiced support for Brazilian far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, whose administration faces international scrutiny over the surge in wildfires in 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 the "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!”

The supportive remarks from Trump came the same day Brazil rejected a $20 million aid package from Group of Seven (G-7) nations to battle wildfires that have ravaged the Amazon rainforest, a region that serves as a vital carbon store for the rest of the world.  

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French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronTrump insulted UK's May, called Germany's Merkel 'stupid' in calls: report The Hill's Morning Report - COVID-19 alarms escalate; Trump under fire over Russia Feehery: The more radicals try to remove history, the more the president looks to repeat it MORE announced the offer on the final day of the G-7 Summit in Biarritz, France, saying that the Amazon rainforest fires posed "dire" consequences internationally. The aid was intended to go to all of the South American nations that the Amazon encompasses. Trump was not in attendance during the 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 the 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. 

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 forests, 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. 

He told reporters Tuesday that Macron must offer an apology to him before they can begin discussing the prospect of international aid. 

“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.”

Bolsonaro over the weekend authorized troop deployment to fight the fires.