The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, has accused Leonardo DiCaprio of funding the Amazon rainforest fires in new comments.
Bolsonaro made the bizarre and seemingly unsubstantiated claim on Friday (November 29), reportedly telling supporters: “This Leonardo DiCaprio’s a cool guy, isn’t he? Giving money for the Amazon to be torched.”
The accusation arrived the day after Bolsonaro made a similar claim in a Facebook live broadcast, and follow the arrest of four volunteer firefighters on Tuesday (November 26) whom local police accused of scorching the forest to help fundraising efforts for an international NGO. The firefighters were released on November 28 after controversy spread surrounding their arrest and subsequent treatment.
“Leonardo DiCaprio, damn it, you’re collaborating with the burning of the Amazon,” Bolsonaro said, claiming the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood actor is also part of an international “campaign against Brazil”.
Eduardo Bolsonaro, the president’s politician son, later tweeted that DiCaprio had donated $300,000 (£230,000) to “the NGO that set fire to the Amazon” and accused the conservation group WWF of paying the NGO about £13,000 for photographs of the burning forest.
WWF’s Brazil office rejected those claims. “WWF Brazil rejects the attacks on its partners and the lies involving its name, including a series of lie-based social media attacks such as the purchase of photographs linked to a donation from the actor Leonardo DiCaprio,” it said in a statement.
Several opposition politicians and activists took to social media to mock Bolsonaro’s attack on the Hollywood actor.
“How desperate,” tweeted Randolfe Rodrigues, a senator from the Amazon state of Amapá. “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.”
Ivan Valente, an opposition congressman, tweeted: “Bolsonaro’s delirium knows no bounds. Accusing Leonardo DiCaprio of paying for the Amazon to be ‘torched’ is pathetic. But their deliberate lies are also revealing.”
Earlier this month (November 4), DiCaprio praised 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg for her fight against climate change.
DiCaprio and Thunberg, who are both vocal about their mission to combat climate change, recently met up to discuss their “commitment to support one another, in hopes of securing a brighter future for our planet”. In a November 2 post on Instagram, DiCaprio documented their meeting and praised the teen’s influential impact, calling Thunberg a “leader of our time”.