Brazil’s Balsonaro Desperately Accuses Leonardo DiCaprio Of Setting The Amazon Ablaze

Brazilian President Jair Balsonaro is so desperate to escape criticism over the devastating Amazon wildfires that he actually accused actor Leonardo DiCaprio of paying environmentalists to start the fires to embarrass him.

As deforestation in the Amazon increased, fires were set to speed up clearing to pave the way for cattle ranches. The fires have been burning ever since, destroying thousands of acres of a rainforest that provides 20 percent of the world’s oxygen as well as being the source of several medicines and is the key to fighting climate change.

In response to the devastation, DiCaprio donated $5 million to organizations dedicated to putting an end to the deforestation and issued a statement decrying the fires and criticizing Balsonaro.

“The lungs of the Earth are in flames,” DiCaprio wrote on Instagram at the time. “The Brazilian Amazon – home to 1 million Indigenous people and 3 million species – has been burning for more than two weeks straight. There have been 74,000 fires in the Brazilian Amazon since the beginning of this year—a staggering 84% increase over the same period last year (National Institute for Space Research, Brazil). Scientists and conservationists attribute the accelerating deforestation to President Jair Bolsonaro, who issued an open invitation to loggers and farmers to clear the land after taking office in January.⁣”

“The largest rainforest in the world is a critical piece of the global climate solution,” DiCaprio concluded. “Without the Amazon, we cannot keep the Earth’s warming in check. ⁣The Amazon needs more than our prayers.”

And now, after months of criticism, boycott threats and political pressure, Balsonaro has resorted to accusing DiCaprio of instigating the fires.

“This Leonardo DiCaprio’s a cool guy, isn’t he? Giving money for the Amazon to be torched,” Balsonaro said in a rant according to The Guardian. “Leonardo DiCaprio, dammit, you’re collaborating with the burning of the Amazon.”

Balsonaro’s son Eduardo also got in on the cheap stunt by making similar accusations against DiCaprio on Twitter, claiming that he paid an NGO to set fires.

NGO’s are non-profit organizations independent of government. They are usually dedicated to specific causes such as environmental protection and conservation. And so, Balsonaro is literally trying to pin blame for the fires on DiCaprio and environmental organizations rather than accept responsibility for letting loggers and farmers destroy it at will.

The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), one of the NGOs working to save the Amazon, soon fired back.

“WWF Brazil rejects the attacks on its partners and the lies involving its name, including a series of lie-based social media attacks such as the purchase of photographs linked to a donation from the actor Leonardo DiCaprio,” the group said in a statement.

Opposition lawmakers in Brazil also slammed Balsonaro.

“How desperate,” Senator Randolfe Rodrigues remarked. “Our negligent and incompetent president – responsible for an environmental dismantling unprecedented in our country – wants to blame DiCaprio but won’t blame his own administration which is incapable of taking a single step without destroying something.”

It’s time for Balsonaro to resign, but he owes DiCaprio and environmental groups an apology for accusing them of something that he did. He’s the one who dismantled environmental protections in Brazil and he’s the one who allowed the Amazon to be set on fire and cleared in the pursuit of profit and greed. He has not only put his nation in danger, he has put the world in danger. And no amount of false blame will change that fact. It only shows how weak Balsonaro is.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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