The far-right president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, was both emphatic and defiant during his speech at the United Nations in New York on Tuesday.
Bolsonaro, a climate skeptic who’s reportedly proud to be nicknamed the “Trump of the Tropics,” told world leaders that “the Amazon is not being devastated,” despite data released in August by a Brazilian environmental agency, the National Institute for Space Research.
More than 75,000 wildfires have been recorded in Brazil this year, according to satellite data collected by the research institute, compared with just over 40,000 over the same period in 2018. The data showed an increase of 85% in rainforest fires in Brazil this year. Bolsonaro was inaugurated on Jan. 1.
In the fiery speech, which had plenty references to God and patriotism, Bolsonaro warned that the UN that should not become a “globalist organization,” and took a page out of the book of Trump — another world leader who shares his ideas that theories about climate change are “conspiracies" — and blamed the media for sensationalism.
"Every country has its problems. But the sensationalist attacks that we have suffered, in large part at the hands of the international media because of the fires in the Amazon awoke in us a feeling of patriotism. It is a fallacy to say that the Amazon is a world heritage,” he said.
“We are open to explore our potential in a sustainable way, through partnerships that add value,” the 64-year-old president added, rejecting calls for foreign intervention.
Speaking about recent actions by foreign leaders such as a call for boycotts on Brazilian goods, such as leather and meat, Bolsonaro said that such measures are an attack on the country’s sovereignty.
Foreign powers “have an interest in keeping indigenous people living like cavemen,” he said , referring to countries eyeing Brazil’s natural riches.
Conservationist groups from Brazil and abroad blame the far-right government of Brazil for its role on the record-setting numbers of wildfires in the world’s largest rainforest.
Marina Silva, a former presidential candidate, called Bolsonaro “completely deranged and delirious,” according to The Washington Post.
Silva, who’s credited to a massive reduction in deforestation in the 2000s when she served as Brazil’s environmental minister, said that “it is unfortunate, worrying and very sad to see Brazil, which was once a protagonist in the environmental agenda, deny the reality of the grave problem of deforestation.”