Brazil rejects $20m aid to save Amazon after row with Emmanuel Macron

Brazil rejects $20m aid to save Amazon after row with Emmanuel Macron

Brazil has rejected the G7 summit’s plan to send $20 million in aid to extinguish fires raging in the Amazon rainforest amid a spat between President Bolsonaro and President Macron.

The pair have been feuding since last week when Mr Macron accused the Brazilian leader of inaction over the fires, said he was lying and threatened to veto a free trade agreement between the Mercosur states of South America and the European Union.

The row worsened when Mr Macron called Mr Bolsonaro a disgrace to Brazil after he mocked the French leader’s wife.

This morning, the Brazilian government said it would reject the offer of $20 million of aid. “We appreciate *the offer+ but maybe those resources are more relevant to reforest Europe,” Onyx Lorenzoni, Mr Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, told the G1 news website.

“Macron cannot even avoid a foreseeable fire in a church that is a world heritage site. What does he intend to teach our country?” he said in a reference to the Notre Dame blaze.

Mr Bolsonaro later told reporters that he would accept the offer of aid if Mr Macron withdrew his “insults”, adding: “He called me a liar. Before we talk or accept anything from France . . . he must withdraw these words then we can talk.”

The undiplomaticrow between Mr Macron and Mr Bolsonaro has overshadowed the Amazon crisis. On Sunday Mr Bolsonaro relayed a post from a supporter with an unflattering picture of Brigitte Macron, 66, alongside one of the Brazilian president’s 37-year-old wife, Michelle. “Now you understand why Macron is persecuting Bolsonaro?” the supporter wrote. Mr Bolsonaro, 64, added on Facebook. “Do not humiliate the guy, ha ha.”

Only hours earlier, Abraham Weintraub, Brazil’s education minister, called Mr Macron, 41, an “opportunistic cretin seeking the support of the French farm lobby”.

In Biarritz, where he put the Amazon crisis on the G7 agenda, Mr Macron broke his usual restraint with a riposte that reflected the anger he always shows over attacks on his wife’s age. “He has madesome extraordinarily rude comments about my wife,” Mr Macron said at a press conference near the end of the summit. “What can I say? It’s sad. It’s sad for him firstly, and for Brazilians.

“I think Brazilian women will probably be ashamed to read that from their president. I think that Brazilians, who are a great people, will probably be ashamed to see this behaviour. I hope that they will very soon have a president who behaves in the right way.

”From Brazil Mr Bolsonaro responded on Twitter, saying thatMr Macron’s “ludicrous and unnecessary attacks on the Amazon” were unacceptable and accusing him of treating the region “as if we were a colony”.

Mr Macron provoked the Brazilian’s anger on the eve of the G7 by tweeting an image of the burning Amazon rainforest with the words: “Our house is burning. Literally.”

Mr Bolsonaro’s approach to the Amazon has contributed to a sharp loss of popularity at home. His personal disapproval rating surged to 53.7 per cent this week from 28.2 per cent in February, a poll showed yesterday.