Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is criticizing his country’s indigenous protection policies, which he says are used by outside forces to limit Brazil’s economy and give excessive amounts of land to tribes.
Bolsonaro met Tuesday with governors of states in the Amazon region to discuss the fires in the region and listened to them complaining about indigenous reserves, saying they impede development.
Bolsonaro said that “many reserves are located strategically” and said, “someone arranged this.”
He didn’t specify what outside forces might be involved.
The president said that indigenous peoples “don’t speak our language, but they have managed to get 14 percent of our national territory” and he added, “One of the intentions of this is to impair us.”
Bolsonaro has repeatedly pushed for opening more indigenous lands for agriculture and mining, saying it would benefit the people living there.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says Brazil will only accept an offer of international aid to fight Amazon fires if French leader Emmanuel Macron retracts comments that he finds offensive.
Bolsonaro on Tuesday said Macron had called him a liar and he accused the French president of questioning Brazil’s sovereignty amid tensions over fires sweeping the Amazon region.
Bolsonaro says Macron has to retract some of his comments “and then we can speak.”
Macron has questioned Bolsonaro’s trustworthiness and commitment to protecting biodiversity.
The Group of Seven nations has pledged $20 million to help fight the flames in the Amazon and protect the rainforest, in addition to a separate $12 million from Britain and $11 million from Canada.
Brazil has rejected a Group of Seven offers of international aid to fight Amazon wildfires, and French President Emmanuel Macron is shrugging off the snub.
Macron put the Amazon fires high on the agenda of the G-7 summit in France, where world powers pledged this week some $40 million to fight the fires and plant new trees because of the Amazon’s importance to the global climate.
Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro accused France and other rich countries of treating the region like a “colony.”
Macron said in a speech Tuesday that Bolsonaro’s interpretation is a “mistake.”
He said the money isn’t just aimed at Brazil but at nine countries in the Amazon region, including Colombia and Bolivia. France too considers itself an Amazon country via its overseas region of French Guiana.
Macron and Bolsonaro have been feuding over social media in recent days.
Firefighters in Brazil’s Amazon have the enormous challenge of putting out a multitude of blazes and safeguarding a vast region described by world leaders as critical to the health of the planet. Brazil’s National Space Research Institute says the number of fires has risen by 85 percent to more than 77,000 in the last year.