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News > Brazil

Bolsonaro Meets Indigenous to Defend Mining in Amazon

  • President Jair Bolsonaro during the Army Day ceremony in Brasilia, Brazil, April 17, 2019.

    President Jair Bolsonaro during the Army Day ceremony in Brasilia, Brazil, April 17, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 April 2019

The Brazilian president argues that environmental and human rights defenders want to "enslave the Indians" and plunge them into a life of poverty.

President Jair Bolsonaro met with Indigenous in Brasilia Thursday where he reiterated his plans to allow business projects on their lands. He took the time to attack the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), the National Indian Foundation (Funai), and international NGOs during his speech.

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During a meeting with alleged representatives of the Parecis, Macuxi, Xucuru and Yanomami ethnicities broadcast live over Facebook, the far-right president defended mining operations in the Yanomami reserve where "there are billions or trillions of dollars" underground.

"The Yanomami's [reserve] is very rich (in resources), which is why there are NGOs saying they are protecting Indigenous peoples. If the territory were poor, no one would be over there. But, since that land is rich, sleazy international swindlers, and local sleazy swindlers, are there.”

Brought to the Planalto Palace by the nation's department of agriculture, the Indigenous 'representatives' appeared in the Facebook video listening to Bolsonaro defend the “right to generate wealth” in the Amazon.

The highly prepared meeting happened two days after the Brazilian Department of Justice authorized the deployment of security forces as of April 17 to “preserve public order” at protests scheduled for April 24 until 26 by Indigenous groups for the XV Free Land Encampment.  

Beginning Wednesday, for 33 days troops will be stationed at the Esplanada dos Ministérios (Esplanade of the Ministries) and the Praça dos Três Poderes (Plaza of the Three Powers) where the Supreme Federal Court (STF), the Planalto Palace (Presidential seat) and the National Congress are all located. 

"Brazil's large indigenous reservation is once again threatened by mining and agriculture in Bolsonaro's government."

According to Bolsonaro policies to protect Amazonian territories have triggered “an environmental fines industry” which only favors non-governmental organizations.

"Part of those fines goes to NGOs, which argue that [the money] is used to control environmental issues,” he said Thursday. He threatened to halt resources that these NGOs receive who he claims hinder economic projects and “invent” Indigenous issues.

"For instance, we want to build an energy transmission line but we have a problem. It's not with the Indians,” Bolsonaro said, but the “terrible Brazilians” who say they are representing local communities.

"Are [Indigenous peoples] going to continue being poor? Enslaved by NGOs, political parties, a deputy, a senator who has no commitment to you, who use you to advance themselves," the Brazilian president said addressing his Indigenous guests.

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