On Monday, the future chief of staff for the new Brazilian administration, Onyx Lorenzoni stated that President-elect Jair Bolsonaro is expected to place responsibility for Indigenous affairs under the control of the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture.
Bolsonaro’s stated view on Indigenous peoples is that they should be made a part of society so their land can be more easily exploited, which, by his theory, would make them beneficiaries of the corresponding revenues coming out of those lands.
He also stated no new nature reservations will be created during his regime.
Indigenous affairs are currently under the control of the National Foundation for the Indigenous People (FUNAI, for its acronym in Spanish).
The move over to the Ministry of Agriculture has some Brazilians worried that farmers would get the upper hand in conflicts with indigenous peoples, according to Reuters.
In 2017 alone, 71 activists and indigenous people were killed in conflicts related to farm and logging land, according to the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT).
Six of the people killed were indigenous members of tribes struggling to protect their reserves in the Amazon rainforest region.
Bolsonaro has also indicated his wish to transform indigenous people and their culture alleging he knows what is best for them, “The natives want doctors, dentists, television, internet. We will give them the means to be like us.”
In the South American country, killings related to farmland generally end in impunity, because, when powerful landowners are involved, they are able to wield their influence over law enforcement.
This announcement comes at a time when Brazilians are concerned about Bolsonaro’s plans to exploit the Amazon forest.
For this purpose, the regime would allow for environmental license flexibilization, reduction of protected areas, as well as the suspension of future demarcations of Indigenous reserves.