Brazil's president will send in the army to tackle the forest fires destroying the Amazon rainforest.
On national television, Jair Bolsonaro said on Friday (August 23) he will deploy federal troops.
The leader's address follows international protests and a global chorus of concern and condemnation over the raging wildfires.
They have surged 83% in number this year, according to government data... Destroying vast swathes of a vital defence against global climate change.
The country's leader was clear where he lays the blame.
SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) PRESIDENT JAIR BOLSONARO, SAYING: "We are in a traditionally hot, dry period of winter and unfortunately there are fires every year in the Amazon region...Regardless, this year's fires are not outside the average of recent 15 years." Environmentalists though, point the finger at farmers clearing land for pasture.
But in his speech, Bolsonaro added that the spread of "false information does not help to solve it." And appeared to criticize European leaders who have threatened to tear up a trade deal with South America in response.
(SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) PRESIDENT JAIR BOLSONARO, SAYING: "We are always open to dialogue, based on respect, truth and an understanding of our sovereignty... Forest fires exist all over the world, and that cannot be the basis for possible international sanctions." Stung by the international outcry, Brazil has distributed a 12-page circular, exclusively seen by Reuters, to foreign embassies.
It outlines data and statistics defending the government's reputation on the environment.
Bolsonaro believes the country should open up the Amazon to business interests, allowing mining, agricultural and logging companies to exploit its natural resources.