(Bloomberg) — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro described activist Greta Thunberg as a “brat” in his latest attack on celebrity environmentalists concerned about the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.
Questioned about the recent killing of two indigenous leaders — the subject of a Facebook post by Thunberg — Bolsonaro told reporters in Brasilia on Tuesday that “it is staggering the amount of coverage the press gives that brat.”
Despite outrage from world leaders and official data showing a sharp rise in Amazon deforestation, the Brazilian president continues to downplay concerns over the rainforest. Without offering evidence, Bolsonaro has said that foreign nongovernmental organizations are exaggerating the problem and in some cases are actually responsible for the recent spate of fires that have blighted the region a few months ago.
In late November he accused actor Leonardo DiCaprio of donating money to NGOs to set fire to the rainforest, a claim he did not substantiate and which DiCaprio denied.
Read More: As Fires Rage in Amazon, Brazil Pushes Back Against Global Scorn
Thunberg, 16, had shared a news report on her Facebook feed on Sunday about the killings of indigenous leaders in Brazil. “Indigenous people are literally being murdered for trying to protect the forest from illegal deforestation,” she wrote.
Shortly after Bolsonaro’s comments, Thunberg altered the biography of her Twitter feed to the Portuguese word for brat: pirralha.
In comments to reporters on Tuesday evening, the presidential spokesman said that Bolsonaro was being neither inappropriate nor discourteous in calling Thunberg a “pirralha.” The term means “child, or person of short stature,” he said.
(Adds comment from Bolsonaro’s spokesman in final paragraph.)
–With assistance from Murilo Fagundes.
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