The Slatest

Brazilian President Blames Leonardo DiCaprio for Amazon Fires

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro waves during the presidential guard change ceremony at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, on November 28, 2019.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro waves during the presidential guard change ceremony at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, on November 28, 2019.
EVARISTO SA/Getty Images

Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has accused actor Leonardo DiCaprio of giving money to organizations that deliberately set fire to the Amazon rainforest. Without providing any proof, Bolsonaro said DiCaprio was one of the foreign donors to the NGOs that he says are partly responsible for setting fire to the Amazon deliberately. “DiCaprio is a cool guy, isn’t he? Giving money to set the Amazon on fire,” the president said to supporters in the capital of Brasilia.

It was the second time this week that Brazil’s president criticized DiCaprio. “Leonardo DiCaprio, dammit, you’re collaborating with the burning of the Amazon,” Bolsonaro said during a Facebook live broadcast. Brazil’s president also accused the actor of being part of a “campaign against Brazil.” Bolsonaro has launched a broad campaign against environmental nonprofits that operate in Brazil, saying that their efforts are bad for the economy.

The president’s son Eduardo also got in on the action, writing on Twitter that DiCaprio donated $300,000 to “the NGO that set fire to the Amazon.”

The president’s criticism of the actor comes on the heels of police raiding the headquarter of two nonprofit groups that was accompanied by the controversial arrest of four volunteer firefighters who were accused of deliberately setting fires to aid their fundraising efforts. They denied any wrongdoing and a judge ordered their release.

As the Guardian notes, Bolsonaro’s attack against DiCaprio was met with derision and ridicule among opposition politicians. “How desperate,” tweeted Sen. Randolfe Rodrigues. “Our negligent and incompetent president – responsible for an environmental dismantling unprecedented in our country – wants to blame DiCaprio but won’t blame his own administration which is incapable of taking a single step without destroying something.” Another opposition lawmaker wrote that “Bolsonaro’s delirium has no limits.”