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Brazil rejected Argentina's aid to fight Amazon fires

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Brazil rejected Argentina's aid to fight Amazon fires

Mato Grosso Firefighters / EPA

Brazil has rejected Argentina's aid from 200 forest firefighting operatives during the height of the Amazon fires, a source in the Argentine government said.

“We do not send anyone to Brazil. The Brazilian government sent a note of thanks, but said it did not need any help, “he told Lusa Daniel Russo, deputy secretary of Civil Protection at the Argentine Ministry of Security, until December 10.

Russo was the one who, until the change of government in Argentina, was responsible for the National Forest Fire Fighting Service.

The Brazilian Ministry of Defense, responsible for coordinating the so-called “Operation Green Brazil” that acted against the fires, confirmed to Lusa that Brazil has dispensed with Argentine aid. “During Operation Green Brazil, which took place from August 24 to October 24, the deployed troops of the Brazilian Armed Forces and firefighters were sufficient to accomplish the mission,” said the Brazilian government.

On August 22, then Argentine President Mauricio Macri called his Brazilian counterpart, Jair Bolsonaro, to offer him Argentine expert assistance in fighting the Amazon fires. At the time, Macri said he was “alarmed and moved” by the fires that had increased 84 percent over the past year.

On August 24, the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a note stating that "Argentina had made available about 200 brigade members with their equipment."

On September 3, considering the imminent departure of the Argentine brigade members to Brazil, then-President Mauricio Macri received the contingent at Casa Rosada, headquarters of the Argentine Government. “President Macri welcomed the brigade members who are prepared to fight fire in the Amazon” titled the Argentine Presidency's note in which Macri congratulated the experts on their readiness to embark on Brazil.

On the Army side, another 100 men were preparing to assist both Brazil and Bolivia in logistical support. However, they eventually moved only to Bolivia due to Brazil's refusal to accept Argentina's appeal.

Despite the Brazilian dismissal, Daniel Russo, who was also at the meeting between the brigade members and President Macri at Casa Rosada, demystifies the impact of the decision.

“Helping brigade members from one country to emerge from another is not really necessary and even complicated in terms of logistics. It is a huge expense to send a contingent and does not result in practical benefits. When one government accepts it is to be good with the other ”, minimizes Russo for those who“ neither Brazil nor Argentina need help because resources are left ”.

However, the Argentine expert underlines the territorial sense that Brazil has when it comes to the Amazon, something that may have influenced the Brazilian decision. “Brazil is very jealous of its sovereignty. In general, Brazilian governments are very nationalistic, but the current one is to the extreme, ”he notes.

During Operation Green Brazil, “Brazil received assistance from four firefighting aircraft offered by Chile, a small group of US experts, an Israeli fire brigade group to exchange experiences with Brazilian firefighters” and support from Japan, who “donated tents and mattresses,” the note from the Brazilian Ministry of Defense told Lusa.

Gustavo Nicola, the firefighter responsible for the Argentine Firefighters' Unique Coordination of Operation, tells Lusa that the list of volunteers to fight the flames in Brazil exceeded 400.

“Of the 200 offered, it was nobody and Brazil lost the help of 200 highly trained brigade members for forest fires,” laments Gustavo Nicola, to whom countries are proud to accept help because “they expose their vulnerabilities to others”.

“As much as the situation overcomes it, a country resists accepting aid. Politicians don't think like firefighters. Fires do not match politicians, ”Nicola concludes, recalling an Argentine saying applicable to all aid when it comes to fires:“ What abounds doesn't hurt. ”

Brazil has suffered the largest number of fire outbreaks since 2010. In November, even with the beginning of the rainy season in the Amazon, the number of fires increased again: 30% compared to October and 15% more than in the same period. period of last year.

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