Presidents of South America’s Amazon region will meet in Colombia to discuss a joint environmental strategy after thousands of wildfires ravaged the region’s rainforests, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Wednesday, August 28, 2019.
The presidents will discuss “our joint policy of preservation of the environment and of sustainable exploitation of our region,” Bolsonaro said.
The meeting will take place on September 6 in Leticia, the capital of Colombia’s Amazon region.
Devastation in the region, known as “the lungs of the planet,” has sparked widespread international concern, with the G7 industrialized nations pledging 20 million dollars in emergency aid to Brazil.
Bolsonaro did not name the presidents who would attend the Leticia summit. The Amazon rainforest covers parts of Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Guayana, French Guiana, and Suriname.
According to him, Venezuela, whose government is not recognized by most Latin American countries, is not invited to the summit.
France also owns Amazonian rainforest in its Guiana overseas department, but Bolsonaro said only Latin American countries would attend the meeting.
The president said on Tuesday that certain conditions must be met before he will accept G7 aid, including an apology from French President Emmanuel Macron, whom he accused of branding him a liar.
Macron said earlier that Bolsonaro had not told him “the truth” about his plans for the rainforest at a G20 summit in June. The French president has also described the Amazon as a “common good” and called for global action to protect it.
“What he did with regard to Brazil was, to first offend the democratically elected president of the republic and then, more than once, to downplay the sovereignty of the Amazon.
“This awakened the patriotic sentiment of the Brazilian people, as well as of other countries here in South America that form part of our Amazon region,” Bolsonaro said on Wednesday.
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, who met Bolsonaro in Brasilia on Wednesday, said “it always has to be recognized” that the Amazon countries had sovereignty over the region.
Chile will send four aircraft to Brazil to help fight the wildfires, Pinera and Bolsonaro announced. Bolsonaro said the fires were under control.
German Development Minister Gerd Mueller called for restraint in the exchanges between Brazil and European politicians.
“Pressure only generates counter-pressure,” he told the newspaper Die Zeit.
Many of the wildfires are believed to have been started by farmers clearing the forest for pasture. Critics say Bolsonaro’s policies have contributed to the fires by encouraging agriculture and mining in the Amazon.