Brazil tells ambassadors no time off due to Amazon fires

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view of a tract of the Amazon jungle burning as it is being cleared by loggers and farmers in Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil, is pictured in this August 23, 2019 picture taken with a drone. Picture taken August 23, 2019 REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s Foreign Ministry on Monday ordered its ambassadors in Europe and other G7 countries not to take vacation for the next two weeks in order to coordinate a diplomatic response to global concerns over the fires raging in the Amazon rainforest, two sources with knowledge of the matter said.

The move comes after Brazil sent a circular to diplomats last week with talking-points about the country’s environmental record in a bid to help respond to public criticism.

The decision to suspend vacations for ambassadors in certain countries was taken by Minister of Foreign Affairs Ernesto Araújo after an emergency meeting with President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday evening, the two sources said.

France and Ireland have threatened to tear up the EU-Mercosur trade deal, 20 years in the making, over the fires. The office of French President Emmanuel Macron even accused Bolsonaro of lying when he played down concerns over climate change at the G20 summit in June.

Some ambassadors were already on vacation and had to return to their posts, the sources said.

Embassies have also been told to post to their social media pages with information such as that forest fires happen every year in the Amazon and that the current fires are not out of control.

Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Writing by Tatiana Bautzer; Editing by Sandra Maler