Of all the crazy claims made by Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro during his time in power, his most recent one concerning Leonardo DiCaprio and the savage Amazon rainforest fires really takes the cake.
According to the Guardian, Bolsonaro told reporters last week: “This Leonardo DiCaprio’s a cool guy, isn’t he? Giving money for the Amazon to be torched.” In an earlier Facebook Live broadcast, the president of Brazil also said, “Leonardo DiCaprio, dammit, you’re collaborating with the burning of the Amazon,” and accused the actor of being part of an international “campaign against Brazil.”
Even Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo got involved, tweeting earlier last week: “Leonardo DiCaprio donated USD 300,000 to the NGO that set fire to the Amazon, the NGO @WWF paid $70,000 for photos of the burning forest.”
“Macron and Madonna were smarter, just took some pictures taken decades ago of some burning forest on the Internet and actually posted them,” he posted.
It’s no surprise Bolsonaro came for DiCaprio. When the Amazon rainforest fires and deforestation hit the mainstream media earlier this year, Bolsonaro was quick to blame environmentalists and not-for-profit organisations experiencing budget cuts.
DiCaprio, who pledged $5M in funding the help fight the fires, has now been forced to respond to Bolsonaro’s claim he was involved in causing them. In an Instagram statement, the actor wrote: “At this time of crisis for the Amazon, I support the people of Brazil working to save their natural and cultural heritage. They are an amazing, moving and humbling example of the commitment and passion needed to save the environment.”
“The future of these irreplaceable ecosystems is at stake and I am proud to stand with the groups protecting them. While worthy of support, we did not fund the organisations targeted.”
“I remain committed to supporting the Brazilian indigenous communities, local governments, scientists, educators and the general public who are working tirelessly to secure the Amazon for the future of all Brazilians,” he wrote.
DiCaprio added a statement from Global Wildlife Conservation’s CEO and Chief Scientist West Sechrest, who said he stands by “those falsely accused of starting forest fires in the Amazon,” and supports “those who are dedicated to protecting one of our planet’s most vital and imperilled ecosystems.”
It sounds like it’s time for Bolsonaro to stop shifting blame onto Hollywood stars and start focussing on how to protect the indigenous communities and wildlife of the Amazon rainforest from these devastating fires.