President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro took a shot at Leonardo DiCaprio’s efforts to help the Amazon rainforest in the wake of the devastating summer fires, following some shocking allegations about how they started.
Bolsonaro is blaming the “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” actor of making donations to nonprofit organizations that, he claims, are behind some of the fires in the Amazon rainforest.
Bolsonaro told supporters Friday: “DiCaprio is a cool guy, isn’t he? Giving money to set the Amazon on fire.”
DiCaprio’s environmental organization has pledged $5 million to help protect the Amazon after fires destroyed large parts of the rainforest in July and August.
Bolsonaro’s comments follow a police raid at the headquarters of two nonprofit groups in the Amazonian state of Para.
Several volunteer firefighters, who deny wrongdoing, were arrested and later released. Local police say they are being investigated for allegedly igniting fires to obtain funding through nonprofits.
Federal prosecutors say their investigation points to local land-grabbers as primary suspects.
The number of fires in Brazil this year is the highest on record since 2013 and is up by 85 percent from last year, according to several reports. The country’s space research center has already detected more than 80,000 fires this year.
Bolsonaro has claimed in the past, without evidence, that the fires were started by nongovernmental organizations in retaliation for his administration’s funding cuts.
However, many scientists and critics of Bolsonaro have said that his government’s policy of encouraging deforestation has boosted the land clearance that helps fires rage, and has given people a license to burn the land.
The Associated Press and Fox News’ Christopher Carbone contributed to this report.