Brazilian Government Denies Millions In Amazon Aid Despite Devastating Fires

As the fires continue to remain ablaze in the Amazon, infamously known as the lungs of our Earth, Brazilian government boldly rejected $20 million in foreign aid according to CNN. Presidential spokesperson Otavio Rego Barros stated that acceptance of the funds would infringe on the autonomy and decision making of the Brazilian government in dealing with this environmental crisis. The money was pledged by many European countries rather publicly at the G-7 summit in France earlier this week. World leaders have responded to Bolsonaro’s decision with condemnation, as the Amazon blazes continue to rage.

Predictably, President Trump responded with praise to the Brazilian governments dealing with the fire through Twitter and a variety of public statements.  Bolsonaro, a far-right conservative and pro-development politician, has worked to form an ally within Trump especially around the time of the G-7 summit. The Trump administration has met Bolsonaro with matched support, by publicly supporting Brazil’s bid to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Joining the OECD would only further Bolsonaro’s commercialization plans and the Amazon’s deforestation. 

With 60% of the Amazon falling within Brazilian territory, the lion’s share of the obligation to act lies on this Southern American country. Covering over 2,100,000 square miles, the Amazon is home to millions of plant and animal wildlife unique to the rainforest.  Additionally, the Amazon plays a crucial role in the global temperament of the world’s climate, indicative of the magnitude these fires carry. With nearly 80,000 fires in 2019, the Amazon is facing more than an 80 percent increase compared with the same time period last year. 

Bolsonaro has repeatedly fought for the Amazon to be more open to development and has defunded several agencies responsible for attempting to stop illegal deforestation/farming activity. Many believe it’s his continuous lax regulation on ranchers and farmers using slash-and-burn farming methods that have caused fires of this magnitude. The record number of wildfires have left the Brazilian government unable to halt their blaze due to the country’s limited resources. Despite this on the 29th of August, Bolsonaro released a statement that he is calling for more development in the Amazon regions, even though fires are continuing to ravage through the rainforest. 

As the severity of the fires continues to mount, so does global awareness and international push towards involvement. Brazil’s refusal of foreign aid has broken ties between themselves and the many countries in the European Union. Unable to offer resources unless Bolsonaro accepts them, countries are at a loss of how to assist the Amazon. The Amazon Fund, enacted by the Brazilian government, is a non-profit organization that streamlines financial donations to help preserve and support the Amazon. Germany and Norway, crucial players that helped with funding, have halted all payments in an attempt to condemn Bolsonaro’s actions. Despite the Fund looking for ways to function without government supervision and control, the poor decisions made by the countries leader continue to affect the Fund’s functionality, which directly hurts the Amazon. His push for Amazonian commercialization has continuously overpowered the Fund’s attempts for preservation, especially in light of the current situation. 

Looking forward, major political change needs to occur if we want a future that involves the Amazon. It is crucial that globally, Bolsonaro feels the push to accept international assistance and make environmental political action. The Brazilian government’s decisions regarding the Amazon do not only affect them as a country. Unfortunately, their decisions are creating permanent damage to our environment that will be felt for generations to come. The severity of this situation calls for a global state emergency, requiring involvement from all countries able to contribute. Brazil has made it clear that they do not carry the resources to deal with a problem of this magnitude, so without an international call to action, the Amazon will continue to perish as the whole world watches.