Bolsonaro Claims Amazon Fires Could Have Been Caused by NGOs

Amazon fires in 2019 set the record for the last seven years

Gustavo Uribe

President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday labeled the country's fires as criminal and said environmental protection NGOs could be involved in the illegal fires. Bolsonaro, however, did not provide evidence.

In an interview at the entrance to the Alvorada Palace, he said that he cut funds that were previously passed on to civil society entities and they may be trying to undermine his mandate.

"There may be, I am not saying, criminal action by people in these non-profits to exactly draw attention against me, against the government of Brazil," he said.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gestures during ceremony at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil August 20, 2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado - REUTERS

Bolsonaro says there has been a world war against Brazil over the stance taken by the current administration, which has publicly criticized European nations.

"We have to do everything possible to prevent this crime from increasing, but we took money from NGOs. Of the outsourcing, 40% went to NGOs [referring to the Amazon Fund]. No more. We also ended up with the transfer of public money, so these people are missing the money," he said.

With 72,843 outbreaks of fire from early January until Monday (19), Brazil recorded an increase of 83% over the same period last year. Fire also advanced over protected areas. This week alone, there were 68 occurrences within indigenous and conservation lands.

The president said the Armed Forces should, starting this Thursday (22), intensify monitoring critical areas of forest fires. "Then we will see who is responsible for the crime. But, in my opinion, there is interest from these NGOs, who represent interests from outside Brazil," he said.

Bolsonaro also accused governors of the Amazon region of colluding with the arson. According to him, there are states in the Northern Region that are not "moving a straw" to combat the burnings.

"Look, there's a governor, I don't want to name it, who is colluding with what's going on and blame it on the federal government," Bolsonaro said.

The state of Mato Grosso leads in the number of fires in the Amazon, with 13,682 hot flashes accumulated throughout the year.

Also on Wednesday, during the climate event Climate Week, organized by the UN in Salvador, Environment Minister Ricardo Salles spoke briefly under the boos of the public and then left the congress.

To Folha, the minister said he had altered his agenda due to the burning in the country and that he will go this Wednesday to the Amazon and the Cerrado.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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