On Wednesday, Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro said, without evidence, that nongovernmental organizations were to blame.
President Jair Bolsonaro: “Regarding the fires in the Amazon, I’m under the impression that it could have been set by the NGOs, because they had asked for money. What was their intention? To bring about problems for Brazil.”
Bolsonaro has worked to deregulate and open up the Amazon for agribusiness, logging and mining since he came into office in January. His attempt to blame environmentalists for the fires drew widespread ridicule and outrage. It came as indigenous people used social media to document how illegal loggers are setting fire to their territories. This is a woman named Célia, a member of the Pataxó indigenous community, speaking in a video that went viral across Brazil this week.
Célia: “Look what they’ve done to our reservation. For two years we’ve been fighting to preserve this land, and now those troublemakers come here and set fire to our village. As if it were not enough, the Vale mining company kills our river, our people, our source of life, and now they’ve come and set fire to our reservation. We won’t stay quiet! Tomorrow we will close the road, and we want the media to defend us!”