Without offering evidence, Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro accused the Hollywood actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio of funding the deliberate incineration of the Amazon rainforest.
“DiCaprio is a cool guy, isn’t he? Giving money to set the Amazon rainforest on fire,” Bolsonaro told supporters in the capital city Brasilia.
President’s controversial comments about the Hollywood start were part of a broader government campaign against environmental activists and environmental groups operating in the country.
Earlier this week, the local police raid at the headquarters of two nonprofit organizations in the Amazonian state of Para and arrested four volunteer firefighters. The police said they are investigating them for allegedly igniting fires in the rainforest to obtain funding. The volunteers declined the allegations, and a judge ordered their release.
According to federal prosecutors, the primary suspects for the fires in the Amazon are the land-grabbers, not the environmentalists or firefighters.
However, the populist-nationalist Bolsonaro has vowed to drive all the environmental organizations from the country. Earlier this week, the president’s son Eduardo claimed on Twitter that Leonardo DiCaprio had donated USD 300,000 to an organization that set fire to the Amazon.
Eduardo Bolsonaro also accused the conservation group WWF of paying the same NGO USD 16,000 for photographs of the burning rainforest. WWF’s Brazil branch categorically declined his statements.
DiCaprio’s environmental organization Earth Alliance has donated USD 5 million to help protect the rainforest after a surge in fires destroyed huge parts of the Amazon in July and August.
In an official statement, the actor declined Bolsonaro’s accusations, pointing out that he had never funded any of the two nonprofits named by the Brazilian authorities.
Leonardo DiCaprio asserted that he remains committed to supporting the Brazilian indigenous .communities, local governments, academia, and the general public who are working to secure the Amazon for future generations.
Bolsonaro’s attack on the Great Gatsby’s actor sparked anger among the opposition and fellow environmentalists. Randolfe Rodrigues, a senator from the Amazon state of Amapá, called Bolsonaro “incompetent and negligent.”
Ivan Valente, an opposition congressman, tweeted that Bolsonaro’s delirium had no bounds. He also added that the president’s attempt to blame the actor for the Amazon forest fires was ”pathetic.”
A Brazilian activist even created a dedicated web page to attribute blame for the nation’s issues to a cast of Hollywood superstars. For instance, Tom Hanks was blamed for the high taxes, while Penelope Cruz for unemployment and Kate Winslet for the crisis in education.
What do you think? Do you support or oppose Bolsonaro’s statements that foreign-funded NGOs caused Amazon’s fires?