Brazil says it will reject an offer of at least $22 million from the rich countries in the Group of Seven, which had offered the money to help fight fires sweeping through the Amazon rainforest. But Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he doesn’t want the cash — unless it comes with an apology from French President Emmanuel Macron.
Bolsonaro and Macron have engaged in a days-long spat after the French leader called for action to protect the Amazon and said the fires are a world environmental crisis that Bolsonaro has allowed to worsen. He also said Bolsonaro, a climate change skeptic, had lied about his effort to combat deforestation.
Bolsonaro responded angrily, saying Macron insulted him and was trying to undermine Brazil’s sovereignty by intervening in the Amazon.
On Monday, Bolsonaro said in a tweet that that he won’t accept what he called Macron’s “attacks.” He also accused Macron of treating Brazil “as if we were a colony or no man’s land.”
In an interview on French TV, Macron later referred to the Amazon as “the lungs of the planet” and pledged that the G-7 group would help Brazil balance its economic development with environmental concerns. In an aside addressed to Bolsonaro, he added, “But we cannot allow you to destroy everything.”
On Tuesday morning, Bolsonaro said Macron would have to take back all the things he said about him before he would even consider the G-7 offer of monetary aid.
Bolsonaro made those remarks to reporters in Brasilia shortly after the website G1 reported that the president’s chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, had rejected the G-7 offer outright.
“Thanks, but perhaps these resources are more relevant to reforesting Europe,” Lorenzoni was quoted saying. Referring to the recent Notre Dame blaze in Paris, he went on to suggest that if Macron cannot “avoid a predictable fire in a church,” he might not have much to teach much to Brazil.