Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has dismissed his own government’s data on tracking deforestation levels as ‘lies’ and told European countries to stay out of his country’s environmental affairs, because ‘the Amazon is Brazil‘s, not yours.’
Bolsonaro made the remarks during a meeting on Friday morning with foreign journalists.
According to The Guardian, he told those gathered: ‘If all this devastation you accuse us of doing was done in the past, the Amazon would have stopped existing, it would be a big desert.’
‘Lies’: Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro has dismissed his own government data on deforestation
The premier’s comments come a day after Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, Inpe, published data showing a rapid increase in deforestation levels, to more than 1,000 square kilometres (400 square miles) in the first half of July.
This is a jump of 68 per cent in levels measured from the entire month of July last year.
Bolsonaro also defended the right of Brazil to open up indigenous reserves to mining, claiming that to not do so would be a ‘crime’.
He said: ‘Indigenous people want to work, they want to produce and they can’t. They live isolated in their areas like cavemen. What most of the foreign press do to Brazil and against these human beings is a crime.’
Strengthening his argument, the president then pulled out a necklace made from black niobium, an expensive metal used in strengthening steel, which can be found in remote regions of the Amazon basin.
Bolsonaro told foreign journalist ‘the Amazon is Brazil’s, not yours’ at a conference on Friday
He said Brazil was ‘open to talk’ about these reserves and called on foreign countries and companies to consider potential ‘partnerships’.
Last month, Bolsonaro pledged his support for US President Donald Trump – who has himself dismissed the need to address climate change – at a meeting between the two men in Japan.
‘I have been a great admirer of you for quite some time, even before your election,’ said Bolsonaro, who invoked Trump during his election campaign.
‘I support Trump, I support the United States, I support your reelection,’ he told the president.
Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, Inpe, published data showing a rapid increase in deforestation levels, to more than 400 square miles in the first half of July
Bolsonaro has publicly admired Trump in the past and mimicked some of his tactics
Trump, for his part, said of Bolsonaro: ‘He is a special man, doing very well, very much loved by the people of Brazil.’
Trump called Bolsonaro’s 2018 win ‘one of the greatest election wins anywhere in the world.’ He said it was helped by Bolsonaro’s ‘relationship with President Trump.’