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News > Brazil

Bolsonaro Targets Indigenous Reserves, Migrants and Environment

  • Brazil's President-elect Jair Bolsonaro reacts next to Rosa Weber, the President of the Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) before receiving a confirmation of his victory in the recent presidential election in Brasilia, Brazil December 10, 2018.

    Brazil's President-elect Jair Bolsonaro reacts next to Rosa Weber, the President of the Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) before receiving a confirmation of his victory in the recent presidential election in Brasilia, Brazil December 10, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 15 December 2018

The far-right president-elect uploaded a video criticizing "strict" environmental regulations that are obstructing development in Brazil.

Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s far-right president-elect, announced he will lift environmental restrictions to allow logging and other economic ventures in the Amazon, posing a serious threat for Latin America’s colossal rainforest and indigenous communities living in it.


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The current environmental policies implemented by the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) will be changed by Bolsonaro once he takes office on Jan. 1, for considering them “too strict” in protected areas.

“The environmental license obstructs majors, governors and the president. If you want to build a road, you can’t. That happens a lot in the Amazon region. We will end with this so the environmental policy is no longer an obstacle in Brazil,” said Bolsonaro in a video published in his social media accounts.

Bolsonaro announced he will review and reduce indigenous reserves in the state of Roraima to allow for mining and economic ventures.

“In the underground of Roraima we can find the periodic table. Nickel, uranium, gold, niobium. We must be able to work in that land … some hydroelectrics can fit in the Rio Poti Valley,” said Bolsonaro.

The far-right politician defends his positions regarding indigenous reserves, arguing that the Brazilian nation is one and that the indigenous people should submit to the majority.

“Why must the Indigenous be pre-historic in Brazil? I want them to integrate to our society. We have Indigenous people that speak our language very well, that have our customs. That’s what we want, we don’t want them to obstruct the development of our country,” he said.

Indigenous movements and organizations, including representatives from the National Foundation of the Indigenous (FUNAI), have protested Bolsonaro’s position on the reserves and extractivist projects in the Amazon, demanding respect for their autonomy.

His plans might be easy to achieve, as Bolsonaro announced the FUNAI will be dependent of the new superministry for of human rights, family and women, which in turn will be headed by a person that speaks against reservations because of the limitations to private companies’ interests, Damares Alves.


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His future environment minister will be Ricardo Salles, who was sued by Sao Paulo's environmental ministry for administrative misconduct by that entity for favoring mining and agricultural businesses. He was recommended for the position by the Brazilian Rural Society – a powerful agribusiness lobbying group that opposes regulations in reserves.

Salles, in turn, said Brazil should remain in the Paris Accord, but that the international community should respect their decision and autonomy regarding environmental policy.

Also, he ratified his decision to suspend Brazil’s participation in U.N. Climate Change Conference and step down from the Paris Accords for considering they restrict the exploitation of natural resources and demand too much from the Latin American giant.

“Why remaining in a possibly harmful accord? It demands Brazil to do a huge reforestation.” According to Bolsonaro, the accord states that Brazil must reforest an area equal to ten times the state of Rio de Janeiro. “We can’t comply with that demand,” he said.

The video is intended to be the first out of a series of weekly deliveries in his social media, in which the politician will update the public about his decisions.

This time, Bolsonaro also announced he will modify Brazilian migration law, considering it “too flexible,” to implement European-style standards and prevent immigrants from eroding the country’s national unity.

“We’re already a nation. We can’t allow people from some cultures. We don’t want people that don’t respect our religion,” he said.

Bolsonaro is widely known for his racist and mysogynist comments, besides being an open supporter of the the last military dictatorship in Brazil (1964-85), General Humberto Castelo and Colonel Carlos Brilhante Ustra.

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