Under Pressure, Brazil Sends Troops to Fight Amazon Fires

Bolsonaro has faced protests at home and around the world
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2019 8:00 AM CDT
Under Pressure, Brazil Sends Troops to Fight Amazon Fires
Neri dos Santos Silva, center, watches an encroaching fire threat after digging trenches to keep the flames from spreading to the farm he works on in the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil, on Friday.   (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Facing increasing pressure to act from leaders around the world and protesters in the streets, President Jair Bolsonaro sent Brazil's military to fight forest fires raging in the Amazon. Beginning Saturday, troops will join the battle in nature reserves, indigenous lands and border areas, the BBC reports. The initial deployment lasts a month. "I've learned as a military man to love the Amazon forest, and I want to help protect it," Bolsonaro said in a televised address. Farmers and loggers are suspected in many of the fires, and the president's policies and hands-off stances are blamed by many in Brazil and around the world.

While Bolsonaro was speaking to the nation Friday, thousands of protesters were calling for action in the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Brasilia. People in their homes banged pots, per CNBC, a customary means of protest. Demonstrators assembled outside Brazilian embassies around the world. The Amazon helps combat global warming, and the leaders of Germany and France said the fires will be a topic at the G7 summit this weekend in France. "Our house is burning," President Emmanuel Macron tweeted. President Trump tweeted that he spoke to Bolsonaro and offered US help to fight the fires. Other countries had threatened economic pressure against Brazil, including holding up a trade deal. Until Friday, Bolsonaro had dismissed the international criticism and accused Macron, for example, of seeking political gain from the situation. (More Amazon rainforest stories.)

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