Brazil's Bolsonaro rejects existence of hunger in his nation as 'a big lie'

Brazil's Bolsonaro rejects existence of hunger in his nation as 'a big lie' Brazil's Bolsonaro rejects existence of hunger in his nation as 'a big lie'

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has denied the existence of hunger in Latin America’s largest country, citing as proof the lack of “people on the streets with skeletal physique as seen in other countries.”

Speaking to foreign reporters on Friday, Bolsonaro blamed what he called "populists" for spreading "a big lie" that some of Brazil's over 200-million population did not have enough to eat, insisting that "there is no hunger" and that the country "was rich in practically every type of crop."

"To say that there is hunger in Brazil is a populist discourse to try to win popular sympathy, nothing more than that," said the far-right Brazilian president, often referred to as the "Trump of the tropics."

Bolsonaro, however, backtracked after being widely criticized on social media following press coverage of his remarks, later admitting that "Brazilians eat poorly, and some people are hungry” but none of it is fault.

"We have diet problems here in Brazil. We have them, it's not my fault, and that was here before I was," he said. "That is unacceptable in a country as rich as ours, with as much arable land as we have and more than enough water."

According to figures released by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 5.2 million Brazilians suffered from hunger in 2017 compared to 5.1 million people in 2014.

Furthermore, the proportion of the population suffering from hunger had fallen to less than 2.5 percent between 2008 and 2010, compared with nearly 12 percent in the 1999-2001 period.

The FAO attributed the decline to social welfare programs introduced by the left-wing government of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, including his Zero Hunger campaign.

Bolsonaro denies rising deforestation in Amazon

The Brazilian president further expressed skepticism about reports of surging deforestation of the Amazon rain forest, telling journalists: "With all the devastation that you are accusing us of doing ... the Amazon region would already have been extinguished."

The remarks came a day after Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) published preliminary satellite data showing deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rain forest accelerated in the first half of July to more than 1,000 square kilometers, a 68-percent increase from the entire month of July in 2018.

Last week, a group of seven scientific institutions -- including the Brazilian Academy of Sciences – backed the assessment released by INPE in an open letter to Bolsonaro and other top officials, insisting that it was of essential strategic importance that the deforestation numbers not be subject to interference.

The Brazilian president, however, claimed the data does not correspond to the truth, reiterating his belief that Brazil suffers from an “environmental psychosis.” He also replied angrily to a European journalist, saying: “The Amazon is ours, not yours.”

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