Amazon fires: Brazil’s Bolsonaro refuses to talk to ‘our dear Macron’ as feud escalates

International outrage over the forest fires has escalated in recent weeks, while Brazil’s far-right government has denounced what it views as foreign meddling on domestic issues. “I am ready to talk with some people, except our dear Macron, unless he apologises about our sovereignty over the Amazon,” he told reporters. “Brazil is everyone’s friend. I’m a dialogue person,” he continued, before warning European leaders against “lecturing” Brazil on the environment. 

As global outrage over the devastating wildfires has grown, Mr Bolsonaro has decried what he views as foreign interference in Brazil’s domestic affairs. 

He has become embroiled in a particularly nasty spat with Mr Macron, who lead criticisms of Brazil’s environmental practices at a recent Group of Seven (G7) wealthy nations summit. 

Mr Macron tweeted that the fires burning in the Amazon basin amounted to an “international crisis,” leading Mr Bolsonaro to dismiss his “colonialist mentality”. 

The French leader, for his part, has accused Mr Bolsonaro of lying to him about his commitments on climate change and vowed to block an EU-Mercosur trade deal involving Brazil that took decades to negotiate. 

Last week, Mr Bolsonaro said he would not accept an offer of at least $20 million (£16.5 million) from G7 leaders to help fight the blazes unless Mr Macron withdrew what he called “insults” against him, as he accused some EU states of “buying” Brazil’s sovereignty with fire aid. 

Mr Macron has yet to respond to Mr Bolsonaro’s demand for an apology. 

Mr Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo, stressed later on Friday that Brazil could not accept the G7 money. 

“This isn’t aid that comes with good intentions. It’s aid that comes with other interests. This would disrespect Brazilians. It would subjugate our Brazilian-ness,” he said after meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House to discuss the forest fires. 

Mr Bolsonaro has said he will appoint his son as Brazil’s ambassador to the United States, but the controversial nomination has yet to be approved by the Senate. 

The sharp jump in the number of fires in the Amazon rainforest has created a lurching international crisis for Mr Bolsonaro, who has been bitterly criticised over his slow response to the blazes and deforestation. 

More than 80,000 forest fires have broken out in Brazil since the start of the year, just over half of them in the Amazon basin, which is often described as “the lungs of the world” due to its vast ability to absorb carbon dioxide. 

Many of the fires are thought to have been started deliberately, with environmentalists blaming speculators who burn vegetation to clear it in hopes of selling the land to farmers and ranchers. 

Mr Bolsonaro, who has called for the development of the Amazon region, has for his part accused non-governmental organisations of burning down the rainforest to hurt his government. 

He has argued that the slashing of NGO funding by his administration could be a motive.  

Environmental and climate experts have branded his claims that NGOs are responsible for the blazes a “smokescreen” to hide his government’s efforts to loosen Brazil’s environmental regulations.