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Wednesday 19 February 2020

Amazon fires caused by NGO brigade, Bolsonaro alleges

The President of Brazil has not provided evidence in support of his allegation while environmentalists called it flippant and irresponsible

Brasilia: President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro said on Wednesday that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) could be behind burning in the Amazon region to “draw attention” against the government of Brazil. The president did not cite names of NGOs but he questioned if there were grounds for the allegations. He said that there were no written records to bolster the suspicion, though!

According to data from the Burn Program, from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), fires in the Amazon constitute 52.5% of such incidents in Brazil in 2019. The G1 showed that the number of incidents of wildfire increased by 82% over the same period in 2018: January to 18 August.

According to Bolsonaro, the government needs to do its best to prevent this type of crime from rising. He also said its people’s money went to these NGOs; so the institutions must offer an explanation for the government grants.

“Crime does exist, so we have to do everything possible so that this crime does not rise, but we donate to NGOs. Of the transfers from outside, 40% went to NGOs. We also ended the transfer of public money. So these people are missing the money,” said the president when he left Palacio da Alvorada when asked about the wave of fires in the region.

Bolsonaro said his “feeling” is that wildfires are intended to send the images abroad. Asked if there is an investigation into the matter, he said that such case has no written records. “The fire has been touched, it seemed, in strategic places. [There are] images of the whole Amazon. How can you? Nor would you be able to have all the places be on fire to film and send it out. there the people to shoot and set fire. That’s my feeling,” he said. Asked by the G1 about whether there is any government investigation to support this “sentiment”, Bolsonaro replied that it “is not written”.

“Dude, you have to understand something that is not written. There is no plan for it there. This is a conversation. Guys, do it! Make a decision! Period. You can see what they do with your money,” the president said. Out of a billion NGOs, 40% go to these people and campaign against us all the time. They have lost their face too,” said the president.

According to Bolsonaro, the government is “not insensitive” to the fires and that it evaluates measures to be taken with the ministries of defence and environment. He said that NGOs represent “interests from outside Brazil”. “I am not saying [which NGOs are responsible for the burnings]. We have to fight crime, then we’ll see who is responsible for the crime. But, in my opinion, there is interest from these NGOs, which represent interests from outside Brazil, “he said.

Bolsonaro raised the issue of burning and NGOs again during a speech at a steel industry congress held in Brasilia. He again aroused suspicion about the activities and interests of organisations. “The question of burning in the Amazon, which in my opinion may have been potentiated by NGOs, because they lost money, what is the intention? Bring problems to Brazil,” said the president.

In a social network, Environment Minister Ricardo Salles said that the increase in fires in the country is due to dry weather, wind and heat.”Dry weather, wind and heat have caused fires to increase greatly throughout the country. ICMBIO and IBAMA brigade members, equipment and aircraft are fully available to states and already in use,” Salles said in a message later replicated by Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro also said there are governors in northern Brazil who do not move a “straw” to help fight the fires in the Amazon. According to him, there is a governor who takes advantage of the burnings to place the “blame” on the federal government.

The president did not cite names or states of these governors, but stressed that there is a state government “that has done nothing but can do”.

“There is a governor, I don’t want to name who is colluding with what is happening and blames it on the federal government. There are states there, which I do not want to mention, in the northern region, that the governor is not moving a straw to help fight You are enjoying this, “said the president.

Bolsonaro was asked whether Norway and Germany have failed to transfer funds to the Amazon Fund . The president stated that one cannot believe in the “childishness” that the two European countries have a “big heart”.

The president of the Brazilian Institute of Environmental Protection (Proam), Carlos Bocuhy, criticised Bolsonaro’s speech, calling it “irresponsible”.

“This statement by the Presidency of the Republic is completely irresponsible because NGOs aim at the environment as a priority. It makes no sense to say that NGOs are setting fire to the forest, on the contrary. It’s big nonsense, ”he said.

In Brasilia, the director of social and environmental justice of the NGO WWF Brazil, Raul Valle, also said that the declaration was irresponsible and that the burning leaves room for deforestation. For him, there is a lack of government control by the government and President Bolsonaro, whom he criticised.

“It’s a light, irresponsible, diversionary statement from the president. Who does he think he’s kidding? The ten municipalities with the largest fire outbreak this year in the Amazon are the same ten municipalities that have the largest number of deforestation. Just don’t see who doesn’t want to,” Valle said.

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