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  • President Jair Bolsonaro, Brasilia, Brazil, Sept. 16, 2020.

    President Jair Bolsonaro, Brasilia, Brazil, Sept. 16, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 23 September 2020
Opinion

During a speech riddled with misrepresentations of reality, the Brazilian president boasted that his country is a "benchmark in environmental preservation."

During his speech at the United Nations General Assembly's virtual meeting on Tuesday, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro blamed Indigenous peoples, the press, and NGOs for the forest fires and the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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He complained of being the victim of a "disinformation" campaign in which the press turned the new coronavirus into a political issue and sowed panic by asking the population to quarantine at home.

Besides downplaying the severity of the pandemic in the country with the world's third-highest number of COVID-19 cases (4,595,335) and deaths (138,159), the far-right politician swore that he did warn the public about the virus "from the very beginning".

During a speech riddled with misrepresentations of reality, Bolsonaro boasted that his country is a "benchmark in environmental preservation."

Then, using as an argument that Brazilian forests do not catch fire because they are wet, the former captain blamed Indigenous communities for fueling the Amazon fires.

“Our forest is humid and does not allow a fire to spread inside. The fires occur in practically the same places where Indigenous people and mixed-race farmers burn their gardens in already deforested areas,” he said.

The meme reads, “The Smoke Screen project found that large- and medium-size rural properties caused 72 percent of the fires that occurred in the Amazon's four largest critical areas in 2019.”

On Tuesday, human rights defenders and environmental activists immediately responded to Bolsonaro's claims, stressing that his speech is an embarrassment to Brazil and the world.

“His speech was described as delusional, irresponsible and unfounded by organizations such as Greenpeace, the Climate Observatory, and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which do not understand how the Brazilian president can ignore the seriousness of the wildfires that are devastating the Amazon since 2019,” outlet El Desconcierto reported.

In international politics, Bolsonaro praised President Donald Trump and the agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, which is considered a betrayal of the Palestinian cause.

Assuming as his own the U.S. agenda against the Venezuelan government led by President Nicolas Maduro, Bolsonaro vowed that his country is also "an international landmark" in the defense of human rights thanks to its host program for migrants.

At the end of his speech, the far-right politician called for the "phobia" against Christian militants to stop.

"Brazil is a conservative, Christian country, which is based on the family," he pointed out.

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