Brazil takes action against fires in the Amazon

Smoke escaping from trees in the Amazon rainforest near Boca do Acre, western Brazil.
Under international pressure, Brazil finally came into action Sunday in the Amazon, two C-130 Hercules aircraft dropping the first tens of thousands of liters of water over the rainforest where the number of fires progressed.

Demonstrations took place in various Brazilian cities in defense of the "lung of the planet", while the G7 countries announced aid to the Amazon "as soon as possible".

President Jair Bolsonaro, to whom the American ally offered his help, thanked in a tweet not the G7 but "dozens of heads of state who (...) will help us overcome the crisis that has not only for those who want to weaken Brazil. "

In this regard, he announced in the evening that he had accepted Israel's proposal to provide a plane for firefighting.

SEE ALSO :New fires rage in Amazon as Brazil military planes battle flames

Shortly after, while the Bolsonarist sphere was unleashed on Twitter against Emmanuel Macron, the Minister of Education Abraham Weintraub called the French president "opportunistic cretin", who was in the forefront in the pressure on Jair Bolsonaro to act in the Amazon.

In the capital Brasilia, some forty people demonstrated against Mr. Macron in front of the French Embassy.

In Rio de Janeiro, some 2,000 people protested in the Ipanema neighborhood, two days after protests in Europe. "Bolsonaro go away, Amazon remains!" chanted they.

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A protester was equipped with a gas mask, disguised as a tree with foliage provided, stuffed animals and a placard proclaiming "Long live nature!"

"We are destroying nature," Teresa Correa of ??the Amazonian state of Para told AFP. "The situation has gotten worse since Bolsonaro became president (in January), he wants to destroy everything."

First concrete action of the government: two C-130 Hercules able to drop 12.000 liters of water and retarding product were deployed by the Brazilian Air Force (FAB), announced the Ministry of Defense.

These water bombers operate at low altitude from Porto Velho, the state capital of Rondônia (north-west), who woke up under a disturbing smoke cover.

"I have been living here for 20 years and I have seen a lot of fires," Welis da Claiana, a resident of this city, told AFP, "but I have never seen anything like it."

The number of fires increased by 1,130 throughout Brazil in 24 hours, according to the National Institute of Space Research (INPE). The latest figures on Saturday night show 79,513 wildfires since the beginning of the year in this country, including just over half in the Amazon.

43,000 soldiers

Above Rondônia, a frontier state of Bolivia, forest fires send columns of fumes with their huge amounts of carbon, AFP journalists said.

Sometimes, a single tree standing in the middle of a landscape of ashes, but totally calcined, testifies to the destruction on the march in the biggest rainforest of the planet.

So far, seven states, including Rondônia, have appealed to the army. Some 43,000 Amazon-based soldiers are available to fight fires, said Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo e Silva.

The governors of the affected states have urgently requested "material support" from Jair Bolsonaro who accused them this week of "connivance" with the authors of "arson".

The government has released emergency funds of 38 million reais (8.2 million euros) for firefighting operations carried out by the Ministry of Defense.

The Minister of Justice and Public Security, Sergio Moro, has given the green light to the deployment of police officers against the illegal destruction of forests in the Amazon.

The accelerated deforestation under the government of Jair Bolsonaro, which encourages cattle farming and cattle rearing in the Amazon, correlated with the dry season, explains the extent of these fires.

"Political use"

These caused a strong emotion on the international scene. On Sunday, Pope Francis said he was "worried" about "this vital lung for our planet".

At the G7 summit in Biarritz (southwestern France), the seven most industrialized Western countries agreed on Sunday to "help countries hit by fires as quickly as possible". About 60% of the Amazon is in Brazilian territory.

"There is a real convergence to say + we all agree to help the countries that are hit by these fires as soon as possible," Emmanuel Macron reported.

On Saturday, President Bolsonaro posted a video on Twitter in which he claims "zero tolerance" for environmental crimes and says "we will act firmly to control fires in the Amazon".

He assures, however, that the "fires this year are not more numerous than the average of those of the last 15 years" and denounces "the political use of these fires" and "misinformation".

A few days ago, he had caused an uproar by evoking his "suspicions" about an NGO's responsibility in the fires.

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Brazil firesAmazon rainforest