Brazil’s Economy Minister Paulo Guedes has claimed France is becoming “insignificant”, threatening to turn away from the French market if Paris does not stop its criticism of deforestation in the Amazon. “You had better treat us well, otherwise we will send you to fuck off,” he said on Tuesday in Brasilia, during a congress of business leaders in the catering sector, filmed extracts of which began. to be released in the Brazilian press on Wednesday.
Comparison between the fire of the Amazon rainforest and that of Notre-Dame
Paulo Guedes, key minister in the government of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, also put the fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris in 2019 on the same level as those ravaging the Amazon rainforest. “One day, a French minister said to me: ‘You are burning the forest’. I answered him: ‘And you, you burned Notre-Dame'”, he said, without specifying which minister he was talking about.
“These are futile accusations! You didn’t burn Notre-Dame, but you failed to prevent the small block (where the cathedral is located) from catching fire. At home, (the Amazon rainforest) is bigger than Europe and you are criticizing us,” he added. “Afterwards, I gave another example (to the minister): ‘our trade with you (France) amounted to 2 billion dollars in 2000, as much as China. Today, it is 7 billion with you and 120 billion with China. You become insignificant for us.
Criticism of Macron’s refusal to ratify the Mercosur agreement
In his speech on Tuesday, Paulo Guedes criticized the fact that French President Emmanuel Macron is opposed to the ratification of the trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur (which brings together Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay), doubting the Brazil’s commitment to defend the environment, in the face of the advance of deforestation and fires in the Amazon.
“Either France opens its market to us, to us and to Mercosur, or it will become insignificant for us and we will look elsewhere,” he insisted. In September 2019, Jair Bolsonaro and Emmanuel Macron had many battles over forest fires in the Amazon, the Brazilian president accusing his French counterpart of threatening Brazil’s “sovereignty” by criticizing its environmental policy. Paulo Guedes himself had added fuel to the fire, declaring at the time that First Lady Brigitte Macron was “really ugly”.