Across the globe, it appears that the world is on fire. From our sunburnt, desolate backyard, to the dry hills of Los Angeles and the dense Amazon Rainforest, the events of 2019 will go down in history. And if anyone is going to accuse Leonardo DiCaprio of causing any of the chaos, we’d suggest thinking twice.
Over the weekend, far-right president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro – who is also compared to Donald Trump – made a series of bold albeit baseless claims that film star and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio funded the recent Amazon fires. “Leonardo DiCaprio, you are contributing to the fire in the Amazon. That won’t do,” said Bolsonaro according to The New York Times. “Cool guy, right? Giving money to torch the Amazon.” The leader appears to be responding to claims which surfaced on social media that the World Wildlife Fund paid firefighters for images of the blazes to be used as propaganda for donations. DiCaprio was a notable contributor to the charity and gifted a reported $500,000 to the cause.
The Oscar-nominee was quick to respond and on Saturday took to Instagram.
“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 organisations targeted.”
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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. 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. 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.
The accusations come after four volunteer firefighters were arrested on charges of arson in a bid to stage photos and draw donations. Opponents of Bolsonaro have denounced the acts as an effort to falsely blame NGO workers of setting the fires instead of ‘illegal land grabbers’ who use the fires to deforest the area for farmers and miners.
Late last month, the actor responded to bushfires also tearing across Australia, particularly surrounding the ongoing debate on back burning. “These species help to maintain healthy forests by continually turning over and breaking down forest leaf litter, thereby drastically reducing fuel load. In their absence, fires are more intense, often reaching the treetops, which can affect populations of species already on the brink, like the Koala,” he wrote.
Stay tuned for any further developments.