Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday repeated demand for his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to withdraw recent remarks about the Amazon wildfire.
Bolsonaro also accused France and Germany of “buying” the Latin American country’s sovereignty with Amazon fire aid.
Bolsonaro’s latest comments came during an escalating diplomatic spat between Brazil and Europe that threatens to torpedo a major trade deal.
They also throw into doubt whether Brazil is still willing to accept the G7’s offer of $20 million to help combat fires raging in the world’s largest rainforest.
Bolsonaro said Tuesday morning he was open to discussing the offer from the G7 only if Macron retracted his “insults” against him.
But by evening Bolsonaro appeared to have changed his tune and dropped the demand. His spokesman told reporters that Brazil would accept foreign aid on the condition that it controlled the money.
“Only after he withdraws what he said… we can talk again,” Bolsonaro told reporters Wednesday, referring to Macron, after holding talks with Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera on the Amazon crisis.
“Germany and in particular France are buying our sovereignty,” Bolsonaro said.
“It seems that $20 million is our price. Brazil doesn’t have a price of 20 million or 20 trillion — it’s the same thing for us.”
Bolsonaro said Brazil would accept bilateral aid to fight the fires, raising doubts over whether the country would take up the offer from the Group of Seven, which consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the United States.
He accepted Chile’s offer of four aircraft to fight the blazes. “We all love the Amazon, but the nine Amazon countries… have sovereignty” over it, Pinera said.
Bolsonaro’s latest remarks make him and his government appear “increasingly unhinged,” said Robert Muggah, from a Rio de Janeiro think tank, the Igarape Institute.
“There don’t appear to be any adults left in the room with the ability or inclination to restrain his worst impulses,” Muggah said.