Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil's president, reacted against international criticism of his administration's environment policies saying that the world needs to understand that the Amazon belongs to Brazilians.
The Brazilian leader told a forum in Rio de Janeiro, in the southeast of Brazil that it was "amusing" that countries who were among the world's worst polluters wanted to talk about preserving the rain forest.
"The world needs to understand that the Amazon has an owner, and that is the Brazilian people" Lula said. "They are rubber tappers, fishermen and we who are Brazilian."
Foreign environmental groups expressed concern this month when president Lula's environment minister, Marina Silva, who was seen as a guardian of the Amazon, stepped down citing inability to carry out her agenda.
The minister had been increasingly isolated in her opposition to big infrastructure projects such as planned hydroelectric plants in the Amazon and had repeatedly clashed with big agricultural interests.
The Amazon has become an international issue because its destruction, much of it by farmers as Brazil's agriculture exports boom, is a major contributor to global warming.
Earlier in the month Swedish businessman Johan Eliasch, a close friend of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, said that the Amazon could be purchased in 50 billion US dollars. Eliasch belongs to the NGO Cool Earth.
Cool Earth, apparently, purchased 160.000 square kilometers of land in the Amazon, which was later transferred to the US Brazil Fund Investment.
According to the Brazilian media, between 2006 and 2007, Eliasch held talks with business circles and proposed them to buy land in the Amazon arguing that "50 billion US dollars would be enough to buy the rain forest."
Media reports also indicate that Brazil's Federal Police and the Brazilian Justice Department are looking into the issue since they believe there's a link between the activities of Cool Earth and statements from British politicians who have criticized Brazil for not looking after the globe's "main lung."
"Very often British parliamentarians have put preservation of the environment above national sovereignty issues, based on allegations that Brazil can't look after its own rain forests," revealed the media.
President Lula da Silva has repeatedly stated that Brazil was doing its part to reduce global warming as the world's largest exporter of the renewable fuel ethanol.
"We are offering the world non-polluting fuel… Let's convince the world that ethanol can help reduce pollution, ease the energy crisis and reduce inflation."
However critics have questioned the environmental credentials of ethanol, saying its production is pushing cattle ranchers and farmers deeper into the Amazon.
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