Yes, you read that correctly. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro accused Leonardo DiCaprio of helping bankroll this year’s fires in the Amazon rainforest on Friday.
“This Leonardo DiCaprio is a cool guy, right? Giving money to torch the Amazon,” Bolsonaro told supporters in capital city Brasília, without offering evidence for the claim. The remark followed a similar accusation on a Facebook Live broadcast on Thursday, during which Bolsonaro named the actor as part of an international “campaign against Brazil.”
“Leonardo DiCaprio, dammit, you’re collaborating with the burning of the Amazon,” Bolsonaro said, again offering no proof.
The Brazilian president seemed to be accusing the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood star of funding nonprofit groups allegedly responsible for the fires. In the Facebook Live broadcast, Bolsonaro accused the conservation organization the World Wildlife Fund of paying volunteer firefighters to take pictures of the fires, then using those photos to obtain donations, including $500,000 from DiCaprio. The WWF has denied receiving such a donation or obtaining such pictures.
DiCaprio, who has long been an advocate of environmental causes, responded to the accusations in a statement on Instagram. “While worthy of support, we did not fund the organizations targeted,” he wrote. “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.”
In August, DiCaprio’s environmental charity Earth Alliance announced a $5 million donation to help protect the Amazon.
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Bolsonaro, whose far-right administration has scaled back environmental protections for the Amazon, has repeatedly attempted to cast blame for the fires on others. This past Tuesday, police arrested four volunteer firefighters, accusing them of setting the fires to obtain donations. (The firefighters have since been released.) In August, Bolsonaro spoke of an “information war going on in the world against Brazil,” and fired a government official he accused of manipulating deforestation data to smear his administration.
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