Reacting to the trending coverage on forest fires, on the 22nd, French President Emannuel Macron used Twitter to convene G7 country members to discuss Amazon destruction, which he labelled as an “international crisis”. On the eve of the G7 Summit in Biarritz, he posted that the forest produces 20% of the global oxygen, along with a picture from 2003 and an inaccurate depiction of the Amazon as “lungs of the world”. Macron’s comment came after UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres tweeted about his deep concerns with the forest fires. “The Amazon needs to be protected,” he wrote.
President Bolsonaro didn’t like Macron’s comments and used social media to reply on the same day. He accused the French President of meddling with an internal Brazilian issue, criticised the “sensationalist” tone of his post and the use of a ‘fake’ picture.
On the 23rd, Macron charged again and called Bolsonaro a ‘liar’ for not living up to the environmental compromises assumed at the Osaka G20 summit in June. The French government said that, under such conditions, the ratification of Mercosul – EU trade deal could be off the table. President Bolsonaro once again replied on Twitter: “I’m sorry for the position of Chief of State calling another president a liar. It was not us that published pictures from last century to fuel hate against Brazil for sheer vanity. Our yellow and green country lives in hearts around the world”.
On the 24th, already at the G7 summit, Macron posted a video on social media saying he would like the meeting to respond to the crisis of the forest fires in the Amazon. ” The Amazon is our common good. We are all worried”. Right after the publication, the Brazilian Presidency Press Secretary shared on Macron’s profile the video of the official announcement made earlier by president Bolsonaro on radio and TV. When listing measures to fight the fires in the Amazon, Bolsonaro stressed Brazil’s sovereignty on the issue. “Forest fires happen all over the world and this can not be used as a pretext for potential international sanctions,” he declared.
Later that day, the provocations escalated when Bolsonaro commented on a picture posted by a follower that ironically compared Macron’s and Bolsonaro’s wives based on their age and looks, implying that Macron would be ‘jealous’ of the Brazilian president because he is married to a younger woman and thus attacking Brazil using forest fires. French and Brazilian feminist movements reacted.
On the 25th, the G7 announced its immediate support to fight Amazon fires in Brazil and other South American countries. When learning that German chancellor Angela Merkel would call him to clarify the G7 support, Bolsonaro claimed ‘victory’ against Macron’s so called ‘crisis’.
On the 26th, during a press conference, French president Macron rebuked the comment about his wife, classifying Bolsonaro as someone who is “extremely disrespectful”, adding that he believes that Brazilian women feel shame when reading such comments from their president. “With great friendship and respect for the Brazilian people, I hope that they will soon have a president that can live up to the job,” he said.
On twitter, Bolsonaro wrote that Brazil can not accept “unreasonable and gratuitous attacks to the Amazon” from Macron, even if such attacks are undercovered as an alliance of G7 countries to save the Amazon as if we were a colony or no one’s land”.