With wildfires raging across Amazonia, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said he would only take the aid from the G7 if French President Emmanuel Macron rowed back on comments made in their ongoing feud.
“First of all, Macron must withdraw the insults,” Bolsonaro told reporters in Brasilia on Tuesday.
“He called me a liar,” Bolsonaro said, adding that once Macron went back on his claim, “from there we can talk.”
Paris threatens trade
The two men have been trading blows online since last week, when the French leader called the fires an “international crisis” and placed them on the agenda of the G7 summit.
Macron has since questioned Bolsonaro’s commitment to protecting the sensitive region. This week’s statement from Macron’s office claimed that Bolsonaro “lied” to Macron when pledging to tackle climate change at a summit two months ago. Paris also threatened to block a major trade deal between the EU and South America’s Mercosur unless Brazil did more to fight the fires.
Bolsonaro has opposed discussing the fires at the G7 summit as a “if we were a colony,” and blasted Macron for having a “colonialist mentality.” However, he also said the Brazilian government did not have the resources to fight the fires.
The feud escalated during the weekend, when a social media user posted an unflattering image of France’s 66-year-old first lady Brigitte Macron on Bolsonaro’s Facebook wall. He compared it with a photo of Michelle Bolsonaro, who is 29 years younger than her French counterpart.
“Now you understand why Macron is persecuting Bolsonaro?” the man wrote, implying that the French president was envious over Bolsonaro’s spouse.
The Brazilian president “liked” the comment and replied with “Do not humiliate the guy, ha ha.”
Macron later slammed Bolsonaro’s comment as “extraordinarily rude.”
“What can I say? It’s sad,” Macron replied when asked for comment on Monday.
“It’s sad for him firstly, and for Brazilians.”
Also on Monday, G7 nations pledged to donate $20 million (€18.03 million) to fight fires in across Amazonia, around 60 percent of which is located in Brazil. G7 members UK and Canada also separately pledged additional millions in aid.
Bolsonaro’s latest demands for Macron’s apology mark a change of attitude from his administration. Initially, Bolsonaro’s chief of staff flatly refused the money.
“Macron cannot even avoid a foreseeable fire in [Notre Dame]” presidential chief of staff Onyx Lorenzoni told the G1 news. “What does he intend to teach our country?”
“Brazil is a democratic, free nation that never had colonialist and imperialist practices, as perhaps is the objective of the Frenchman Macron,” Lorenzoni said.
dj/msh (AFP, AP)
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