Bolsonaro refusing aid from the EU for the Amazon is ‘massively insane’


BRASILIA – The Brazilian government has rejected offers of financial aid for firefighting in the Amazon.

About 3 weeks ago, thousands of fires in the Amazon region have been lit. The issue became the focus of worldwide attention and motivated protests inside and outside Brazil against the government’s stance on the subject.

The most recent G7 meeting addressed the issue under the leadership of French President Emmanuel Macron. The G7 decided to send 20 million euros to Brazil, but the country refused aid after bartering between Macron and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

Already on Monday, the Brazilian government accepted $51 million from the British government to fight the fires.
However, on the same day, Canada offered similar value to Brazil for the same purpose, about $10 million, and the government refused to receive the aid.

Sérgio Ricardo, of the Baía Viva Movement, spoke on the subject. The environmentalist says he considers the position of the Brazilian government “a great insanity” and predicted that the country was heading for a “diplomatic isolation” that could also become economic in case of retaliations such as boycotts.

“If in fact boycotts the country’s agricultural products, products originating from deforested areas, degraded areas, there will be a deepening of the economic crisis,” said the environmentalist in an interview.

Ricardo also points out that this possible crisis would mainly effect the areas where poverty is already present.

“In this case, this crisis will mainly affect the Brazilian countryside, the areas where the indicators of poverty and even extreme poverty are very high,” he adds.

The environmentalist also explains that the negative climb in relation to environmental policies jumped from 2016 and that the non-compliance with international agreements can cause disruption to Brazil.

“Brazil will not meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and as a result it must suffer strong economic sanctions,” said the environmentalist, who added that since January there has been a heightening of conflicts in the countryside.

Resources will “be sorely missed”

Another expert, Sonaira Silva, professor at the Federal University of Acre (UFAC), coordinator of the geoprocessing laboratory applied to the environment.

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The laboratory coordinated by the teacher has been monitoring the burning in the Amazon region. Sonaira claims that the burnings continue to increase.

“This year we see that there is a very close, very strong relationship with land use change and some political discussions,” said the researcher.

Silva also claims that the measures taken by the government so far are not enough to remedy the problem.

“They are still insufficient because they are still at the speech level. I’ve been doing, in addition to satellite monitoring, fieldwork over the last 2-3 weeks. And what we get to talk to farmers about is that there really is no measure coming to them to take an alternative to fight the fire or even a more punitive action […],” said the researcher.

Regarding the government’s stance of refusing financial aid from other countries in the fight against fires, Sonaira also believes it to be a mistake.

“Undoubtedly they will be very much missed by the fire [fighting], especially at the state and even municipal level,” he said.

For the researcher, the federal government has to pay attention to acting on several scales. And while the resources offered may not always be large, local help could make a difference.

“So surely this tie that the federal government is making with the release of these resources will greatly damage the actions,” he said.

Sonaira also recalls that Brazil has made several budget cuts, which for her shows that the country should not be denying external resources.

“I think it’s a set of gears that we need to think about when this federal scale denies a resource that is really very important. At this time of crisis when we are making several budget cuts – CNPQ grants, projects – don’t get me seems to have plenty of funds for the president to remove the need for this feature,” he said.

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