France Threatens to Scrap Trade Deal With South America Over Amazon Fires

France said Friday that it would block efforts to reach a major trade deal between the European Union and Brazil in an escalation of tensions over fires ravaging the Amazon rainforest.Leading a growing wave of European anger, a French presidential statement said, “The decisions and statements from Brazil these recent weeks show clearly that President [Jair] Bolsonaro has decided to not respect his commitments on the climate, nor to involve himself on the issue of biodiversity.”As a result of Brazil’s actions, the statement said, France now opposes an EU trade deal “in its current state” with the Mercosur bloc of South American nations, which includes Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said they supported France’s stance, which came ahead of a Group of Seven (G-7) summit in France this weekend.Under increasing pressure about the wildfires, Brazil’s president said Friday that he might send the military to battle the massive blazes.Bolsonaro did not say when the armed forces would get involved but suggested that action could be soon.Thousands of wildfires burning in the Amazon rainforest threaten to wipe out large parts of a vital ecosystem.A woman holds up a banner saying ‘ Their life does not belong to us’ during a demonstration against the wildfires in the Amazon outside the Brazilian embassy in Paris, Aug. 23, 2019.On Thursday, Bolsonaro accused his French counterpart of having a “colonialist mentality” for saying the Amazon wildfires should be at the top of the G-7 summit agenda.”The French president’s suggestion that Amazon issues be discussed at the G-7 without participation by the countries in the region evoke a colonialist mentality that is out of place in the 21st century,” Bolsonaro tweeted Thursday.He said countries that send money to Brazil for the Amazon are not doing it out of charity but “with the aim of interfering with our sovereignty.”Images from U.S. satellites show smoke blanketing South America from the thousands of fires burning in the Amazon.”Our house is burning. Literally,” Macron tweeted Thursday. “The Amazon rainforest, the lungs which produce 20% of our planet’s oxygen, is on fire. It is an international crisis.”Bolsonaro has said his government lacks the resources to fight the fires in such a huge area.Environmentalists put much of the blame on Bolsonaro, saying he encourages farmers and others to burn land for development and pasture.Brazil’s neighbors, Bolivia and Paraguay, have also struggled to contain fires that have gotten out of control in high winds. On Friday, a U.S.-based super tanker aircraft arrived in Bolivia to help with the firefighting effort.The Amazon rainforest is the world’s biggest ecosystem. Environmentalists call it “the world’s lungs” because it creates 20% of the globe’s oxygen and is able to absorb carbon dioxide, the gas primarily responsible for global warming.The Amazon is also home to much of Brazil’s indigenous population and thousands of species of mammals, birds and reptiles.

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