According to BBC, international leaders at the G7 summit have agreed to provide logistical and financial support to help fight fires in the Amazon rainforest.

However, President Jair Bolsonaro does not seem to happy about it:

President Jair Bolsonaro said Mr Macron's plan of an "alliance" to "save" the Amazon treated Brazil "as if we were a colony or no man's land".

A record number of fires are burning in Brazil, mostly in the Amazon, according to the country's space research agency.

The funding pledge was announced as the leaders of the G7 - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US - continue to meet in Biarritz, France.

Mr Macron said the funds would be made available "immediately" - primarily to pay for more fire-fighting planes - and that France would also "offer concrete support with military in the region within the next few hours".

However, Mr Bolsonaro - who has been engaged in a public row with Mr Macron in recent weeks - accused the French leader of launching "unreasonable and gratuitous attacks against the Amazon region", and "hiding his intentions behind the idea of an 'alliance' of G7 countries".

Clearly rainforest fires are hard to counteract so any help should be welcomed. I am wondering why President Jair Bolsonaro is reluctant about receiving this help.

Question: Why is G7 helping fighting fires in the Amazon rainforest such a big deal for President Jair Bolsonaro?

As a side note, the issue seems to have evolved at almost personal level between France and Brazil's presidents as shown here.


2 Answers 2


This Opinion Guardian Article by David Miranda* states that clearing of the rain forest is a goal of Bolsonaro and his administration.

Deforestation is an affirmative goal of Bolsonaro. That can be achieved by cutting down trees or, more efficiently, by simply burning large areas that Brazil’s agricultural industry wants to exploit.

The government agency responsible for monitoring deforestation documented the loss of “1,330 sq miles of forest cover in the first half of 2019, a 39% increase over the same period last year”.

It is a simple step from here to understand that Jair Bolsonaro does not want the help of the G7 to fight the fires, because he does not want to fight the fires at all.

This NYTimes article collects together a large number of statements from President Bolsonaro giving a look into his beliefs on Environmental Management and Indigenous rights.

(*) David Miranda is a federal congressman (for the opposition) in Brazil representing the state of Rio de Janeiro with the Party of Socialism and Liberty (PSOL)

  • 2
    An opposition politician is not a very reliable source of objective information on the government's policy. There are many examples of policies enacted by president Bolsonaro intended to fight or prevent fires: apnews.com/1e8c83ce73364a009810da8cf0416fbc reuters.com/article/us-brazil-environment/… Commented Sep 2, 2019 at 5:25
  • @ArturGaspar it's a good point, and is why I made sure the origin of the quotes above was on the bottom of the post. It is however worth noting that the "many" policies in the articles you've linked are recent, instigated after international pressure has been placed on Brazil to act. The NYTimes article I linked provides a better insight into what would be happening without that pressure, making the opposition comments closer to the mark to my understanding. Though the article is all secondary sources and not ideal for quote lifting.
    – Jontia
    Commented Sep 2, 2019 at 8:07
  • Past declarations and policies do suggest that president Bolsonaro is not very committed to protecting the environment, but as a general inclination rather than a specific policy on the fires happening now. Even if he enacted these policies only due to international pressure, the question of why he will not accept Macron's help remains, particularly when he has been more welcoming to offers of help from other governments, e.g. forbes.com/sites/rachelsandler/2019/08/28/… Commented Sep 3, 2019 at 10:23

It started when Mr Macron made this declaration:

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!

Mr Macron used a 2003 picture to illustrate the fires, which is arguably misleading as it shows a much bigger fire than most current photos.

Mr Bolsonaro considered it improper for a foreign official to refer to a part of Brazil as "our house", and to suggest the discussion of a situation happening in Brazil without the presence of Brazilian representatives with the presumption being that whatever was decided at the G7 could be imposed upon Brazil by force:

[...] The French president's suggestions that matters of the Amazon be discussed in the G7 without the participation of countries of the region evokes a colonialist mindset unfit for the 21st century.

(in free translation)

Thus, Mr. Bolsonaro does not want to legitimize Mr Macron's imperialist rhetoric, much less to actually allow any unsupervised French action in Brazilian territory, as put by the Brazilian government spokesperson:

"The Brazilian government through President Bolsonaro is open to receiving financial support from organizations and even countries," Otavio Rego Barros told reporters in Brasilia, without specifically mentioning the G7's offer. "The essential point is that this money, on entering Brazil, will be under the control of the Brazilian people."

  • In addition to this good answer, it is nice to know that fires in the Amazon are a recurring phenomenon, measured yearly by INPE, and are not at their all time peak. In other words, it is not like fires in the Amazon are happened just this year or are much more widespread os of now. Pretty much sounds more like political agenda from Mr. Macron to point fingers to this issue right as election year approaches.
    – Mefitico
    Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 16:55

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