Amid foreign pressure Brazilian president sends army to fight fires

Protests against the Brazilian president and the wildfires, Berlin, 23 August.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday authorized the deployment of troops to help fight the wildfires in the country's Amazon region as EU leaders warned that the fires posed a danger to the entire planet and should be on the G7 summit agenda. The army was also ordered to prevent "environmental crimes," the daily O Globo reported, cited by dpa.

 Many of the blazes are believed to have been started by farmers opening the way for grazing areas after Bolsonaro pledged to open more of the rainforest to agriculture and mining. Bolsonaro has accused NGOs of starting some the blazes, but not cited any evidence.

Presidential orders came amid widespread international criticism of the country's perceived failure to protect the Amazon rainforest, which has been called "the lungs of the planet."France and Ireland on Friday said they would block a European Union trade deal with the South American Mercosur group of countries over Brazil's policies. The free trade agreement with Mercosur, which was reached in late June, still needs to be ratified by member states of both blocs.

In a Friday evening speech, French President Emmanuel Macron said he wants to discuss the re-forestation of the Amazon rainforest and how to finance it at the G7 summit.  Bolsonaro, who had earlier rejected foreign advice, tweeting that Macron's plans to have the G7 discuss the fires represented "a colonialist way of thinking."

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