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27 Aug, 2019 23:49

‘Sovereignty not negotiable’: Brazil to welcome only ‘unconditional’ foreign aid for Amazon

‘Sovereignty not negotiable’: Brazil to welcome only ‘unconditional’ foreign aid for Amazon

Brazil welcomes foreign aid only if it comes with no strings attached, the government said after President Jair Bolsonaro and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron traded barbs over the wildfires raging in the Amazon rainforest.

Presidential spokesman Rego Barros told media Tuesday that Brazil would not reject help from any foreign nations, including France, but on one condition – that it’s the Brazilians who decide how to spend the money.

“The essential point is that this money, on entering Brazil, will be under the control of the Brazilian people,” Barros said.

Brazilian sovereignty is not negotiable

The wildfires ravaging the Amazon rainforest became the burning issue on the agenda of the recent G7 summit in France, partly thanks to Macron. The French president persuaded the six other nations to fork out some $22 million in funding to an international “alliance” to combat the fires.

The offer of help came together with threats to veto a trade deal between the EU and the Mercosur bloc, of which Brazil is a member, as well as accusations against Bolsonaro that he has been lying about his efforts to deal with climate change.

The insinuations drew wrath from the Brazilian government, with Bolsonaro accusing Macron of “unreasonable attacks” and a “colonial mindset.”  Brazil indicated that it is poised to turn down the offer, however generous it might be.

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Upping the ante, Bolsonaro’s chief of staff Onyx Lorenzoni said on Monday that Brazil would not take advice from a man who “can’t even prevent a foreseeable fire in a church” referring to the infamous Notre Dame Cathedral inferno in April.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo spoke along the same lines Tuesday, calling the campaign spearheaded by France to “save” the rainforest “a pretext for introducing mechanisms for external control of the Amazon.”

“Brazil will not accept any initiative that implies relativizing sovereignty over its territory, whatever the pretext and whatever the guise,” the country’s top diplomat said.

Bolsonaro, dubbed by critics ‘Trump of the Tropics’ over resembling the US president in style and demeanor, hinted that he would consider taking up the French proposal only after Macron makes amends with him personally.

“To talk or accept anything from France, with the best possible intentions, he has to withdraw these words, and from there we can talk,” he said.

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