“I won’t give an inch to the Indigenous reservations,” said far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsanaro.
Jair Bolsonaro, the far-right candidate leading Brazil's presidential polls since the electoral tribunal banned Lula from running in the elections, has vowed to end Indigenous reservations, claiming theyare too large for such a small fraction of the population.
Indigenous people, willing to defend their territories from further destruction, are reacting to him both within and outside the electoral system.
Indigenous people own 118 million hectares in Brazil, mostly in the Amazon rainforest, and their special territorial status protects them from economic ventures that could be harmful for the environment.
For decades, Indigenous struggles have pressured the state to develop laws in their favor, in order to protect their culture, land and community life, but Bolsonaro could end all that.
The far-right candidate claims “Brazilian people are one” and allegedly makes “no distinction between Whites, Afro-Brazilian, and Indigenous.”
But in an act of ideological gymnastics, Bolsonaro also wants to suppress Indigenous reservations, territories administered by the inhabiting communities, and open them to national and transnational companies: “I won’t give an inch to the Indigenous reservations,” he said.
Protesting the government of Michel Temer and the candidacy of Bolsonaro, 129 Indigenous people are aspiring for diverse positions in the 2018 elections. That’s just 0.46 percent of the candidates, but still a historical number for Brazil.
Of those, 75 created the ‘Indigenous Parliamentary Front’ to combat the possibility of a far-right government.
“The idea of those 75 Indigenous candidates is to dialogue and coordinate to gain prominence in the congress with some proposals common to all the ancestral peoples,” says Lola Campos, from the Native Amazon Operation (OPAN).
“There are 305 different peoples, with their own languages and cultures, supporting very different candidates. Most of them are close to the leftists that support their causes, but others also support Bolsonaro.”
"Women, in all diversity, also say Not Him."
Sonia Guajajara, an Indigenous Guajajara woman from Maranhao, is the first Vice-President candidate in Brazil’s history, running along with Guilherme Boulos for the Communist Party of Brazil (PCB) in coalition with the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL). The coalition’s program was designed with the influence of indigenous, feminists, anti-racist and LGBT movements.
Guajajara graduated from literature and nursing and has been a prominent environmental activist in her community, gaining national and international visibility. In 2017, she was invited by Alicia Keys on stage and gave a speech on the defense of environment, human right, indigenous territory and against Temer’s government.
“This is the mother of all struggles, the struggle for Mother Earth!” she exclaimed.
Guajajara and Boulos’s team has only 2 percent in the opinion polls and will most likely not make it to the second round, but she puts her hopes in the front.
The last time there was an indigenous representative at the House of Representatives was in 1986, when Mario Juruna, Indigenous Xavante, ended his term.