Reports suggest that Bolsonaro was commenting on claims that the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) paid for images that showed volunteer firefighters tackling fires in the Amazon. The strongly disputed accusation claims that volunteers set fires, took photos and then used the images to solicit donations, including a $500,000 contribution from DiCaprio.
Although the environmental organization denies receiving a donation from DiCaprio following the publication of the images, President Bolsanro said “This Leonardo DiCaprio is a cool guy, right? Giving money to torch the Amazon.” He added: “So what did the NGO do? What is the easiest thing? Set fire to the forest. Take pictures, make a video. WWF makes a campaign against Brazil, it contacts Leonardo DiCaprio, he donates $500,000.”
Before claiming DiCaprio funded the fires, Bolsonaro accused the actor of being involved in an international “campaign against Brazil.”
In a statement posted on Instagram, DiCaprio rebutted Bolsonaro’s claim. The actor said, “Although they are certainly worth supporting, we have not funded the organizations that are currently under attack.”
WWF’s Brazil office rejected the accusation that they had used images of volunteer firefighters for economic gain. The organization said it “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.”
Bolsonaro’s past views
After taking office in January, Bolsonaro expressed a strong opinion regarding environmental groups and foreign nations who criticized his administration’s stance on environmental concerns. The Guardian reports that in 2018 Bolsonaro said: “This cowardly business of international NGOs like WWF and so many others from England sticking their noses into Brazil is going to end! This tomfoolery stops right here!”
Bolsonaro has made unsubstantiated claims about environmental groups working in Brazil before, including involving an Amazon fire in August, which led to the international community condemning his administration’s stand. He blamed the “information war going on in the world against Brazil.” He then ousted the head of his government’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) that monitors deforestation, accusing the institute of manipulating deforestation data to discredit his administration.
Fires burn in the Amazon
In August this year, fires burned in the Amazon. There were 30,901 individual fires – three times as many as the previous month. The increased rate of the fires has led to global concern over the condition of the “lungs of the planet” – as the Amazon is often referred to – which some claim play a significant role in mitigating the climate crisis.
It is not uncommon for fires to burn in the Amazon during the dry season. However, critics attribute the increased devastation to Bolsonaro’s pro-business policies. Critics say such policies have weakened environmental protection and encouraged deforestation of the Amazon.
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.