Porto Velho (Brazil) (AFP) – Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro is willing to accept foreign aid for fighting fires devastating the Amazon rainforest, but only if the country controls the funds, his spokesman said Tuesday.
The announcement suggests Bolsonaro has dropped an earlier demand that French President Emmanuel Macron withdraw “insults” made against him before he would accept a G7 offer to help put out the fires in the world’s largest rainforest.
“The Brazilian government through President Bolsonaro is open to receiving financial support from organizations and even countries,” Otavio Rego Barros told reporters in the capital Brasilia, without referring specifically to the G7’s offer.
“The essential point is that this money, on entering Brazil, will be under the control of the Brazilian people.”
Bolsonaro has been involved in an escalating war of words with Macron over the worst fires to hit the Amazon in years — blazes that have sparked a global outcry and threatened to torpedo a huge trade deal between the European Union and South American countries.
A top Brazilian official on Monday rejected the G7 countries’ offer of $20 million to combat the fires devastating the forest in Brazil and Bolivia, saying Macron should take care of “his home and his colonies.”
“Mr Macron must withdraw the insults he made against me,” Bolsonaro told reporters in the capital Brasilia earlier Tuesday.
“To talk or accept anything from France, with the best possible intentions, he has to withdraw these words, and from there we can talk.”
Macron and Bolsonaro have repeatedly locked horns in the past week, with the French leader accusing Bolsonaro of lying to him about his commitments on climate change and vowing to block the EU-Mercosur trade deal involving Brazil that took decades to negotiate.
– ‘Extraordinarily rude’ –
On Monday, Macron rebuked the “extraordinarily rude” Bolsonaro after the Brazilian leader personally expressed approval for a Facebook post implying that Brigitte Macron was not as attractive as his own first lady, Michelle Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro has hit back, accusing Macron of treating Brazil like “a colony or no-man’s land.”