Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro reversed course Saturday, saying he plans to send the country’s military to fight raging wildfires in the Amazon.
Bolsonaro authorized the troop deployment Saturday morning for the next month in a presidential decree obtained by CNN. Brazil's environmental agency, IBAMA, also announced Friday it is bringing on hundreds of temporary firefighters to help combat the fires.
"The Amazon rainforest is an essential part of our history, our territory and everything that makes us feel," Bolsonaro said. "Being Brazilian, our wealth is invaluable both in terms of biodiversity and natural resources."
The move marked a reversal for Bolsonaro, who has dismissed claims that his government’s policies contributed to the fires and fought back against international pressure to take further action, saying other nations were running a “fake news” campaign and attempting to meddle in Brazil’s sovereignty.
“These countries that send money here, they don’t send it out of charity,” the right-wing president said in a live broadcast on Thursday. “They send it with the aim of interfering with our sovereignty.”
Bolsonaro, who rode a populist wave to victory in 2018, vowed to open up the Amazon rainforest to business development, saying Brazil's environmental policies were “suffocating” its economy.
Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research released data earlier this year showing that deforestation increased by 88 percent in June compared to the same month last year. Fires in Brazil are also up 85 percent this year compared to 2018, with a majority occurring in the Amazon, the institute said.
The Brazilian president this week tried to shift the blame to nongovernmental organizations for the wildfires, claiming that some groups were setting the blazes to harm his image.
The wildfires have since evolved into a worldwide topic of conversation, with Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzCongress should reject H.R. 1619's dangerous anywhere, any place casino precedent Alabama Republican touts provision in infrastructure bill he voted against Telehealth was a godsend during the pandemic; Congress should keep the innovation going MORE (D-Hawaii) calling on the U.S. to cut all funding to Brazil until the fires are put out and French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronJustice for Josephine Baker means restoring her US nationality Far-right commentator joins presidential race in France Josephine Baker honored at France's Pantheon MORE, who is hosting and setting the agenda for the Group of Seven summit this weekend, calling the blazes an “international crisis.”
Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest - the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen - is on fire. It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let's discuss this emergency first order in two days! #ActForTheAmazon pic.twitter.com/dogOJj9big— Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronJustice for Josephine Baker means restoring her US nationality Far-right commentator joins presidential race in France Josephine Baker honored at France's Pantheon MORE (@EmmanuelMacron) August 22, 2019