On Tuesday, Jair Bolsonaro, the President of Brazil said it was a lie that the Amazon was being destroyed by fire and accused countries critical of him of having a “colonialist spirit.” During this year’s UN General Assembly, the leader also heaped praise on his American counterpart Donald Trump for respecting his country’s sovereignty.

His speech came after a week of Human Rights Watch report in which Bolsonaro was accused of giving a “green light” to illegal loggers and failing to protect those defending the world’s largest rainforest.

Mr. Bolsonaro in his long speech said “The Amazon is not being devastated or consumed by fire. The media is lying.”

“It is a fallacy to say that the Amazon is the heritage of humankind, and a misconception confirmed by scientists to say that our Amazon forests are the lungs of the world,” he added.

Mr. Bolsonaro also criticized his critics saying that while every country had problems, sensational reporting in the international media “aroused our patriotic sentiments.” 

“Using and resorting to these fallacies, certain countries, instead of helping… behaved in a disrespectful manner and with a colonialist spirit,” he said.

“They even called into question that which we hold as a most sacred value, our sovereignty,” he further claimed. 

He clearly stated that “One of these countries during the recent G7 meeting dared suggest applying sanctions to Brazil without consulting or even listening to Brazil.”

Due to Mr. Bolsonaro’s environmental policies, Ireland and France have already threatened to cancel a trade deal between the EU and South American countries including Brazil. 

Mr. Bolsonaro praised President Trump saying, he was  grateful to Trump, “who summed up the spirit that should prevail among United Nation member countries: respect for the freedom and sovereignty of each of the member countries.”

Later on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron criticized Mr. Bolsonaro repeating that the planet had a “common interest” in the Amazon due to its impact on the climate.

“I will never support a leader who calls scientific facts into question,” Macron told reporters, adding: “We need to respect the Brazilian people as well as the truth in order to make progress.” 

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