Brazil on Monday rejected aid from G7 countries to fight wildfires in the Amazon, with a top official telling French President Emmanuel Macron to take care of “his home and his colonies.”
Brazil did not immediately provide a reason for refusing the money, but its president Jair Bolsonaro has previously accused Mr Macron of adopting a “colonialist” mindset at the summit of leading developed nations in France.
“We appreciate (the offer), but maybe those resources are more relevant to reforest Europe,” Onyx Lorenzoni, chief of staff to President Jair Bolsonaro, told the G1 news website, referring to a pledge of USD 20 million made at the G7 summit in France to fight the rainforest blazes.
And in a continuation of the acrimonious spat between France and Brazil that threatened to overshadow the three-day summit, Mr Lorenzoni suggested the aid was hypocritical after the April fire at Paris’s Notre-Dame cathedral.
Brazilian environment Minister Ricardo Salles had earlier told reporters they had welcomed the G7 funding to fight the fires that have swept across 950,000 hectares (2.3 million acres) and prompted the deployment of the army.
But after a meeting between Mr Bolsonaro and his ministers, the Brazilian government changed course.
“Brazil is a democratic, free nation that never had colonialist and imperialist practices, as perhaps is the objective of the Frenchman Macron,” Mr Lorenzoni said.
Mr Bolsonaro, a climate-change sceptic has faced criticism over his delayed response to the fires at home and thousands have taken to the streets in Brazil in recent days to denounce the destruction.