UPDATED 11/30/19 11:49 a.m. ET: Leonardo DiCaprio has responded to the Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro's claims that the actor played a financial role in the fires that ravaged the Amazon.
“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," DiCaprio wrote on Instagram on Saturday.
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Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro is pointing his finger at Leonardo DiCaprio.
While addressing a small group of supporters on Friday, the far-right politician accused the Oscar-winning actor of paying for the series of fires that devastated the Amazon rainforest this year.
"DiCaprio is a cool guy, isn't he?" Bolsonaro said in Brasilia. "Giving money to set the Amazon on fire."
According to the Associated Press, Brazil's president did not provide any evidence to support his accusations against DiCaprio, but his comments are right in line with his previous claims that environmental groups were behind the surge of Brazil's forest fires. DiCaprio's nonprofit organization Earth Alliance had pledged $5 million to help reduce the number of rainforest fires, many of which are deliberately set to clear swaths of land for agricultural use.
Bolsonaro has argued against government-backed protections of the Amazon, claiming such restrictions hinder economic growth. He has also claimed that the 2019 surge of rainforest fires (an 84 percent increase from 2018) were set by non-governmental organizations that were trying to fuel criticism of his government.
"On the question of burning in the Amazon, which in my opinion may have been initiated by NGOs because they lost money, what is the intention?" he asked back in August. "To bring problems to Brazil."
The Brazilian president did not provide any proof for these claims.
Bolsonaro's latest comments come on the heels of a police raid at the headquarters of two nonprofit groups in the State of Pará. The AP reports that the raid led to the arrest of four volunteer firefighters who were accused of setting Amazon rainforest fires in an attempt "to obtain funding from sympathetic donors." The volunteers denied the allegations and were ultimately released.