Actor Leonardo DiCaprio has pushed back against claims made by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro that the Hollywood star’s donations to environmental groups have contributed to the recent forest fires inflicting the Amazon rainforest.
Last week, Bolsonaro accused the World Wildlife Fund (to which DiCaprio is a major donor) of paying volunteer firefighters for photos that the organization would use to help solicit donations.
“[WWF] makes a campaign against Brazil, it contacts Leonardo DiCaprio, he donates $500,000,” he said in a Facebook live broadcast. “A part of that went to the people that were setting fires. Leonardo DiCaprio, you are contributing to the fire in the Amazon; that won’t do.”
The Brazilian leader later doubled down on his claim, mockingly telling reporters: “Now Leonardo DiCaprio is a cool guy, right? Giving money to burn the Amazon.”
The claim drew a response from DiCaprio, who wrote on Instagram that he “did not fund the organizations targeted,” but did not mention Bolsonaro directly.
“At this time of crisis for the Amazon, I support the people of Brazil working to save their natural and cultural heritage,” the Wolf of Wall Street star said. “They are an amazing, moving and humbling example of the commitment and passion needed to save the environment. The future of these irreplaceable ecosystems is at stake and I am proud to stand with the groups protecting them.”
“While worthy of support, we did not fund the organizations targeted,” he continued. “I remain committed to supporting the Brazilian indigenous communities, local governments, scientists, educators and the general public who are working tirelessly to secure the Amazon for the future of all Brazilians.”
The WWF also denied accusations that they had paid firefighters for photos. “WWF Brazil rejects the attacks on its partners and the lies involving its name, including a series of lie-based social media attacks such as the purchase of photographs linked to a donation from the actor Leonardo DiCaprio,” the organization’s Brazilian office said in a statement.
Despite his luxury lifestyle and travel on gas-guzzling private jets, DiCaprio remains one of Hollywood’s most prominent environmental activists ringing the alarm bells on the subject of climate change. Last month, he met with Swedish teenager and environmental alarmist Greta Thunberg, heralding her as a “leader of our time,” adding that they had made a “commitment to support one another” in their common cause.
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