Greenpeace activists on Monday rapelled down Jerusalem’s Old City walls and unveiled banners opposite the hotel where Jair Bolsonaro is staying, imploring the Brazilian president to stop the destruction of the Amazon rainforests.
“We will remind the president of the importance of the Amazon at all times, without rest,” said Marcio Astrini, public policy coordinator for Greenpeace Brazil in a statement. “An area corresponding to the size of two soccer fields of the Brazilian Amazon forest is deforested every minute. This is unacceptable and must have an end.”
According to the environmental organization, over a billion trees were destroyed in the Amazon between August 2017 and July 2018. Greenpeace says that the government of Bolsonaro, who took office on January 1, poses a threat to the rainforest and its indigenous population.
Bolsonaro has clashed with his country’s indigenous people, issuing an order hours after his inauguration that likely will make it all but impossible for new lands to be identified and demarcated for indigenous communities. He has also vowed to open up further areas of the rainforest to development.
“The Bolsonaro government should ensure the protection of the Amazon, as it is fundamental not only for the global climate, ensuring rains that guarantee food production, but is also important for our economy,” Greenpeace Brazil said in a statement. “Consumers around the world as well as businesses and governments have already made it clear they do not want products contaminated by deforestation. Protecting the forest, therefore, protects the lives, climate, economy and employment of millions of Brazilians.”
Bolsonaro, a right-wing hardliner who has made headlines for playing down the brutality of his country’s past military dictatorship, landed in Israel on Sunday for a two-day trip seen as a boost to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the April 9 elections.
The Brazilian president who has been criticized for past statements considered to be racist, sexist and homophobic, is an avid supporter of Israel.
The Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Sunday a new trade office to open in Jerusalem will “promote trade, investment, technology and innovation as a part of its embassy in Israel.”
Bolsonaro has previously pledged to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem, but the relocation appears to be on hold and he has made no mention of the possible move since arriving in the country.
Agencies contributed to this report.