Ready to accept foreign aid for Amazon fires: Brazil

Vastavam web: Brazil said on Tuesday it was ready to accept foreign aid to help fight fires in the Amazon but only if it could determine how it was spent, in an apparent attempt to smooth over a public spat between the Brazilian and French presidents. The comments by presidential spokesman Rego Barros came after governors of states in the Brazilian Amazon told President Jair Bolsonaro that they needed the money to help fight the record wildfires in the world’s largest tropical rainforest.

“The Brazilian government, through its president, is open to receiving financial support from organizations and countries. This money, when it enters the country, will have the total governance of the Brazilian people,” Barros said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Bolsonaro had said he would only consider accepting a $20 million offer of aid from the Group of Seven wealthy nations if French President Emmanuel Macron withdrew the “insults” against him.

Bolsonaro and Macron have been embroiled in a deeply personal and public war of words in recent days, with Bolsonaro mocking Macron’s wife and accusing the French leader of disrespecting Brazil’s sovereignty. Macron has called Bolsonaro a liar and said Brazilian women are “probably ashamed” of him.

Brazil’s president is finding himself increasingly isolated on the global stage over his response to the blazes, which threaten what many view as a key bulwark against global climate change. The far-right government’s response could threaten Brazil’s trade deals and powerful agribusiness sector, which is a crucial driver of its recession-plagued economy.

“We think that it’s not the moment to turn down money,” Flávio Dino, the governor of Maranhao state, told reporters after a meeting in which Bolsonaro pledged to agree on a package of legislative measures with the states by Sept. 5 to help prevent the surge in forest fires happening again. “The anti-environment rhetoric could expose Brazil to international sanctions,” Dino said.