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As fires raged in the Amazon rainforest, the Brazilian government on Thursday denounced international critics who say President Jair Bolsonaro is not doing enough to curb massive deforestation.
The growing threat to what some call "the lungs of the planet" has ignited a bitter dispute about who is to blame during the tenure of a leader who described Brazil's rainforest protections as an obstacle to economic development.
President - Defiance - Experts - Record - Number
The president's defiance came as its own federal experts reported a record number of wildfires across the country this year, up 84 percent over the same period in 2018. Satellite images show smoke from the Amazon reaching across the Latin American continent to the Atlantic coast and Sao Paulo, Brazil's biggest city, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
On Thursday, Bolsonaro said there was a "very strong" indication that some non-governmental groups could be setting blazes in retaliation for losing state funds under his administration. He did not provide any evidence.
Bolsonaro - Election - Year - Media - Organizations
Bolsonaro, who won election last year, also accused media organizations of exploiting the fires to undermine his government.
"Most of the media wants Brazil to end up like Venezuela," he said, referring to political and economic turbulence in the neighboring South American country.
Amnesty - International - Government - Fires - Concern
London-based Amnesty International blamed the Brazilian government for the fires, which have escalated international concern over the vast rainforest that is a major absorber of carbon dioxide from the...
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