Brazil will reject $22 million worth of aid offered by the G7 to help fight fires raging in the Amazon.
The aid package, the bulk of which was for firefighting planes, was agreed to at the conclusion of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, this weekend.
But Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, said that the money would be “put to better use reforesting Europe.”
More than 80,000 fires have broken out in the Amazon rainforest in 2019. According to Brazil’s space agency INPE, that number represents an 80% increase this year.
French President Emmanuel Macron, the host of the G7 summit of the world’s largest advanced economies, had called the fires an international crisis.
“The Amazon forest is a subject for the whole planet. We can help you reforest. We can find the means for your economic development that respects the natural balance," he said. "But we cannot allow you to destroy everything.”
This led to Bolsonaro accusing France and other European nations of treating Brazil like a colony.
Writing on Twitter on Monday, Bolsonaro had said that “respect for the sovereignty of any country is the least that can be expected in a civilized world.”
And according to the Associated Press, Bolsonaro said Tuesday that Brazil could accept the aid funds if Macron withdraws his "insults."
Speaking to Brazil’s G1 website, Bolsonaro's chief of staff Lorenzoni had mocked the G7 offer, saying Macron should focus instead on preventing fires at Notre Dame Cathedral.
“Macron can’t even prevent a foreseeable fire in a church that is a World Heritage Site,” Lorenzoni said.
“What does he want to teach our country? He has plenty to take care of at home and in the French colonies.” French Guiana, an overseas department of France, borders northern Brazil.
Relations between Brazil's and France’s leaders are extremely poor at the moment. This weekend the Brazilian president’s official Facebook page appeared to endorse a meme mocking Macron’s wife, Brigitte.
Macron responded by saying the “incredibly disrespectful comments” were “sad first of all for [Bolsonaro] and the Brazilian people.”