Date
12 November 2019
A person holds a T-shirt with an image of Brazil's leader Jair Bolsanaro during a demonstration in Sao Paulo on Aug 23 to demand more protection for the Amazon rainforest. Photo: Reuters
A person holds a T-shirt with an image of Brazil's leader Jair Bolsanaro during a demonstration in Sao Paulo on Aug 23 to demand more protection for the Amazon rainforest. Photo: Reuters

Brazil to accept G7 aid only if Macron withdraws ‘insults’

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Tuesday that he wants French leader Emmanuel Macron to withdraw the “insults” made against him before he considers accepting a US$20 million offer from the G7 nations to help fight forest fires in the Amazon, Reuters reports.

“First of all, Macron has to withdraw his insults. He called me a liar. Before we talk or accept anything from France … he must withdraw these words then we can talk,” Bolsonaro was quoted as saying in Brasilia.

“First he withdraws, then offers (aid), then I will answer.”

Later, in a discussion with members of his cabinet and governors of Amazon states, Bolsonaro said he does not have anything against the G7 countries, but rather against the president of one of them – a thinly veiled reference to Macron, the report noted.

Bolsonaro and Macron have become embroiled in a deeply personal and public war of words in recent days, with the Brazilian president 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 their president.

Bolsonaro’s response to the forest fires is being closely watched by world leaders increasingly concerned by climate change, and could threaten Brazil’s trade deals and powerful agribusiness sector, which is a crucial driver of its recession-plagued economy.

However, the offer of aid from the Group of Seven wealthy nations, which was made at a leaders’ summit in the southern French town of Biarritz on Monday, has stirred up emotions within Bolsonaro’s nationalist government.

Some officials are grateful for the much-needed help, and others view it as a colonial token that undermines Brazil’s control of its lands.

Bolsonaro raised Macron’s ire on Sunday when the Brazilian leader responded to a Facebook post that compared the looks of his wife Michelle, 37, with Macron’s 66-year-old wife Brigitte.

“Do not humiliate the man hahahah,” Bolsonaro wrote, in a comment widely criticized as sexist.

Macron, who has accused Bolsonaro of lying about climate change policy, called the remarks “extremely disrespectful” to his wife.

On Tuesday, Bolsonaro said he would only countenance accepting G7 money if Macron retracted his earlier comments.

In a boost for the Brazilian leader, US President Donald Trump on Tuesday tweeted his support for Bolsonaro, an ideological peer on the environment, China and trade.

Bolsonaro “is working very hard on the Amazon fires and in all respects doing a great job for the people of Brazil – Not easy. He and his country have the full and complete support of the USA!” Trump tweeted.

The Brazilian president responded on Twitter: “We’re fighting the wildfires with great success. Brazil is and will always be an international reference in sustainable development.”

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