In Fake News: Brazil’s President Blamed The Amazon Fires On…Leonardo DiCaprio?

Photo: Jun Sato/WireImage.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro claims he has identified the culprit behind the fires currently burning through the Amazon rainforest: actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio. Wait, what?
Bolsonaro cited no evidence to back up his claims, the Associated Press reports, and his claims have since been proven false. 
“DiCaprio is a cool guy, isn’t he? Giving money to set the Amazon on fire,” Bolsonaro told supporters on Friday. 
This is the right-wing leader’s latest attempt to shift blame for the environmental crisis raging in his country, and part of an ongoing campaign against environmental nonprofits in Brazil. Bolsonaro, Brazilian officials, and local police have claimed that these organizations and volunteer firefighters are purposefully lighting fires to solicit donations. Past claims have similarly lacked supporting evidence.
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Apparently, these wild assertions needed to be cleared up, so DiCaprio shared a public statement denying Bolsonaro’s accusation. “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,” DiCaprio wrote on Instagram. 
In a recent example of the campaign against environmental nonprofits, the World Wildlife Fund was accused on social media of using photos of the fires to acquire funds from sympathetic donors. DiCaprio was named; according to The New York Times, the online posts said he contributed $500,000 to the organization.
The fund denied obtaining the photos, and both the WWF and DiCaprio have denied any transaction between them.
“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,” DiCaprio wrote in his statement.
After large swaths of the Amazon were destroyed over the summer, DiCaprio’s environmental organization Earth Alliance pledged $5 million to protect the rainforest. Earth Alliance also runs an Amazon Forest Fund, which donates the money directly to indigenous communities and local partner organizations.
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