Leonardo DiCaprio has responded to the extraordinary comments made by the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, who this week accused the actor of bankrolling the Amazon rainforest fires.
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 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”.
Yesterday (November 30), the star took to his Instagram account to clarify his position and deny any culpability in the burning of the rainforests. “While worthy of support,” he added, “we did not fund the organizations targeted.”
See the full statement below.
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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 organizations targeted. I remain committed to supporting the Brazilian indigenous communities, local governments, scientists, educators and general public who are working tirelessly to secure the Amazon for the future of all Brazilians.
Eduardo Bolsonaro, the president’s politician son, had previously 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.
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”.