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As EU threatens trade retaliation, Brazil sends army to fight Amazon fires

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As EU threatens trade retaliation, Brazil sends army to fight Amazon fires

By Lisandra Paraguassu and Jamie McGeever

 

2019-08-23T214304Z_1_LYNXNPEF7M1WP_RTROPTP_4_BRAZIL-ENVIRONMENT-PROTESTS-BRITAIN.JPG

People demonstrate during an Extinction Rebellion protest outside the Brazilian embassy in London, Britain August 23, 2019 in this picture obtained from social media. Dyego Rodrigues via REUTERS

 

BRASILIA (Reuters) - European leaders on Friday threatened to tear up a trade deal with South America, reflecting the growing international dismay and anger with Brazil as a record number of fires in the Amazon rainforest intensified the unfolding environmental crisis.

 

Against the global chorus of condemnation, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was mobilizing the army to help combat the blazes, while his administration launched a diplomatic charm offensive to try to mend bridges.

 

The Trump administration said it was "deeply concerned" about the wildfires, which now look set to be discussed at a summit of G7 leaders in France this weekend. French President Emmanuel Macron's office went so far as to accuse Bolsonaro of lying when he downplayed concerns over climate change at the G20 summit in June.

 

France and Ireland said on Friday they would now oppose the E.U.-Mercosur farming deal struck in June between the European Union and the Mercosur countries of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

 

"There is no way that Ireland will vote for the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement if Brazil does not honor its environmental commitments," Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said in a statement.

 

The EU-Mercosur deal took 20 years to negotiate, but will not be officially ratified for another two years.

 

Brazilian Business leaders also warned the backlash over Brazil's environmental record could sink its efforts to join the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a Paris-based club of 37 developed nations whose imprimatur is required by many institutional investors.

 

Stung by the international outcry, Bolsonaro signed off on sending in the Brazilian army to fight fires, Antonio Denarium, governor of the Amazon state of Roraima, said on Friday.

 

Brazil also distributed a 12-page circular, exclusively seen by Reuters, to foreign embassies, outlining data and statistics defending the government's reputation on the environment.

 

Having first dismissed the fires as natural, then blaming non-governmental organizations without evidence for lighting them, Bolsonaro struck a more serious note on Friday, saying he would summon top cabinet members to tailor a response.

 

Asked by reporters in Brasilia if he would send in the army, he said: "That is the expectation."

 

Bolsonaro met with a team of senior officials on Friday afternoon, including the defense and environment ministers as well as the foreign minister, to hammer out a response to the crisis. He was due to address the nation at 8:30 p.m. (2330 GMT)to discuss the measures.

 

Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias insisted that Brazil was "taking care" of the Amazon, and that international concerns over the fires should be cooled down.

 

"The news is worrying, but I think we have to lower the temperature. The Amazon is important, Brazil knows that, and Brazil is taking care of the Amazon," Dias told reporters.

 

'HEARTBREAKING'

 

Forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon, which accounts for more than half of the world's largest rainforest, have surged 83% in number this year, according to government data, destroying vast swathes of a vital bulwark against global climate change.

 

The government agency INPE has registered 72,843 fires, the highest number since records began in 2013. More than 9,500 have been spotted by satellites over the past week.

 

Although fires are a regular and natural occurrence during the dry season at this time of year, environmentalists blamed the jump on farmers clearing land for pasture.

 

Farmers may have had at least tacit encouragement from the firebrand right-wing president, who took power in January.

 

Bolsonaro has repeatedly said he believes Brazil should open up the Amazon to business interests, allowing mining, agricultural and logging companies to exploit its natural resources.

 

On Thursday, Bolsonaro admitted for the first time that farmers may be behind some of the fires.

 

As the fires burned, foreign pressure continued to grow. Several hundred activists protested outside the Brazilian embassies in Paris and London on Friday.

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted that the fires were "not only heartbreaking, they are an international crisis," while a spokeswoman said Johnson would use the summit of G7 leaders this weekend to call for a renewed focus on protecting nature.

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and France's Macron also called for the fires to be on the G7 agenda.

 

Alexandre Antonelli, director of science at Britain's Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, urged that import sanctions be imposed on Brazil because of the fires.

 

"Immediate action is necessary to extinguish the current fires and prevent future ones," the Brazilian scientist said.

 

On Thursday, Bolsonaro responded angrily to what he saw as foreign interference.

 

"These countries that send money here, they don't send it out of charity. ... They send it with the aim of interfering with our sovereignty," he said.

 

(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu in Brasilia, Eduardo Simoes in Sao Paulo, additional reporting by William James and Kate Kelland in London, Marine Pennetier in Paris, Alex Alper in Washington; Writing by Jamie McGeever and Stephen Eisenhammer; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Daniel Flynn and Sandra Maler)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-08-24
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4 hours ago, rooster59 said:

Bolsonaro has repeatedly said he believes Brazil should open up the Amazon to business interests, allowing mining, agricultural and logging companies to exploit its natural resources.

He'd be rubbing his hands with glee thinking of all the kickbacks.

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1 hour ago, mtls2005 said:

Expecting trump to chime in and blame Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post.

 

 

Well that’s got to set the record for today. Four post in and its already going to Trump/USA.

That TDS kicking in fast this morning. Take your meds girls.

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Bolosonaro shall be arrested and tried at the Hague as international criminal against humanity !
This will not happen as he got big support from Pompeo and Trump !
 

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Why even consider an agricultural trade deal with countries, who deliberately burn down forests?  Ban them all including most south east asian countries.

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3 hours ago, mtls2005 said:

Expecting trump to chime in and blame Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post.

 

 

After Macron criticized Bolosonaro, Trump tweeted

image.png.f248187ddcbfa6ed7250ed5359ec68dd.png

Likely just to spite Macron by going against the EU. But who knows, maybe Trump will send a couple thousand rakes to Brazil so it can rake the forest floor. (Trump's solution to mitigate California forest fires)

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3 hours ago, nobodysfriend said:

Bolsonaro is a criminal who should rot in prison . The damage his policies have done to the rainforest that is an ecosystem by itself is far worse than what ever happened before .

Mr P already advises him on how to sort it out - "Khun Bolsonaro, just say it was misunderstanding and that you gonna look into it real deeply" works for me every time. 

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3 hours ago, nobodysfriend said:

Bolsonaro is a criminal who should rot in prison . The damage his policies have done to the rainforest that is an ecosystem by itself is far worse than what ever happened before .

Must be an amazing president which was elected with 55.1 % of the vote. Been in office less then 10 months and single handedly has destroyed the rain forest with his policeies.

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8 hours ago, rhyddid said:

Bolosonaro shall be arrested and tried at the Hague as international criminal against humanity !
This will not happen as he got big support from Pompeo and Trump !
 

Well that’s a great plan, shall be arrested? So that implies the Hague is mobilizing their air force and military to go down and arrest the president and put him on trial. But wait, the Hague does not have an air force or military, just reservations at the high in restaurants and hookers’ numbers.

Or maybe you know of which countries or mobilizing to go and do the nasty in Brazil? I guess you have an inside scope, or maybe you have been called by the Hague while sitting on that bar stool.  Secret Agent 0069, we need you now, go get the president of Brazil.

 

Well let’s look at facts, the only country that has the logistics and military capability to actually go in and arrest him is? GET READY FOR IT! The US military, dam, that sucks don’t it.

Put the Crack pipe down and move away from the table, you have had enough for today.

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Yup, this guy is Trumps friend,  because they are very much alike, except

Brazil has a huge rain forest, and USA has a huge prairie area.

  Mind set seems to be the same though.

Geezer

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21 hours ago, Xonax said:

Why even consider an agricultural trade deal with countries, who deliberately burn down forests?  Ban them all including most south east asian countries.

 

 

A start would be a world wide boycott of the Golden Arches , then I took my rose coloured glasses off

 

 

A handful of the world's largest food companies and commodity traders, including the McDonald's fast-food chain, are driving illegal and rapid destruction of the Amazon rainforest, according to a six-year investigation of the Brazilian soya bean industry

https://www.theguardian.com/guardianweekly/story/0,,1752430,00.html

Beef Companies Failing in Effort to Slow Amazon Deforestation, Study Says

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/17102016/beef-companies-failing-effort-slow-amazon-rainforest-deforestation-climate-change-mcdonalds-burger-king-walmart

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