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  • Pope Francis meets with Brazil's Indigenous leaders at the Vatican, Oct. 17, 2019.

    Pope Francis meets with Brazil's Indigenous leaders at the Vatican, Oct. 17, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 October 2019

As part of a campaign to defend their rights, Indigenous leaders are denouncing abuses from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his administration.

Brazil's Indigenous people on Thursday held a meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican as part of a tour across Europe, with the purpose of denouncing the abuses committed by the regime of President Jair Bolsonaro against the Amazonian people's economic, social and cultural rights.

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This meeting happened behind the scenes of the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon, which began on October 6 and runs until the 27th, as the Brazilian outlet O Globo reported.

The dialogue began with the speech of an Indigenous woman who asked for help so that the Amazonian people can have a peaceful and happy life, and take care of their lands and protect their waters.

Pope Francis referred to the dangers which are currently affecting the Amazon rainforests due to what he called "new forms of colonization."

During the Vatican meeting, the Indigenous leaders also denounced the "de facto" breach by the Brazilian state of several international agreements related to environmental protection.

On Friday, as part of their local campaign, over 70 Indigenous leaders visited the Justice Ministry and the Federal Supreme Court in Brasilia to demand that their territories be legalized as soon as possible.

At the Public Health Ministry, Chief Arua Pataxo, who represents the Pataxo and Tupinamba Nations, announced that doctors, nurses and dentists cannot arrive in the Indigenous communities due to lack of transportation, which creates conditions for the population to get sick more frequently.

He also said that Indigenous students have to travel tens of miles to Salvador, the capital of the State of Bahia, in order to attend classes.

"The situation is complicated. But we need education. We need to return with knowledge to our communities," Pataxo said.

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