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News > Brazil

Brazil: President Bolsonaro Deepens Anti-Indigenous Policies

  • Indigenous people take part in a protest against Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro's administration in Sao Paulo, Brazil, January 31, 2019

    Indigenous people take part in a protest against Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro's administration in Sao Paulo, Brazil, January 31, 2019 | Photo: Reuters

Published 14 February 2019

President Jair Bolsonaro aims to broaden the agricultural border within the Amazon and take land away from Indigenous communities for agricultural reasons.

Since he got into the presidency of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro has marched forward against the rights of Indigenous populations in the Amazon region. Among the main promises, when he was just a presidential candidate, was not to grant "an inch of land" to Indigenous peoples.

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The Babau Indigenous leader, Rosivaldo Ferreira da Silva, from Tupinanmba, has denounced the aim of landowners and police officers to murder him and his family. According to him, after Bolsonaro was sworn-in violence against Indigenous people and the invasion of their lands has risen.

One of his first actions as president was to merge the National Indigenous Foundation (Funai) - responsible for allocating land to Indigenous and Campesino communities, among other tasks - to the Ministry of Agriculture, headed by Tereza Cristina Costa. Costa is a massive landowner and leader in the rural landowners' bench in Congress, she is known as "the Venoms Muse" for backing a law in 2018 that allowed the use of toxic pesticides.

The minister of agriculture is now also responsible to expand the agricultural border in Brazil, expanding exploitable lands mainly towards the Amazon forest. Through this ministry, Bolsonaro plans to open up Indigenous reserves for cattle raising, agriculture and mining.

Another policy to be implemented and which has been announced is to "make environmental licenses more flexible" which will allow the investment and exploitation of resources by transnational companies in those territories.

According to Nacho Lemus, teleSUR's correspondent in Brazil, the Minister of Environment Ricardo Salles, just went to the Amazon region for the first time "paid homage to indigenous people who rent land for soy monoculture,"  and also "delegitimized Chico Mendes," one of the most important and historic defenders of the Amazonia.

According to the researcher and activist of the global movement Survival International, Xilonem Clarke, "now more than ever the indigenous peoples of Brazil are asking for the support and solidarity of the international public," because of the policies implemented by the Jair Bolsonaro government.

Clarke recently explained that these policies are an open declaration of war against the Indigenous populations, and asserted that with the power to demarcate lands on the hands of the Ministry of Agriculture, it will be "almost impossible" to guarantee the territorial rights of the communities.

Bolsonaro and his allies have stated in several occasions their intentions to "add" Indigenous populations of Brazil to "modernity," but this is seen as forced "integration." In that sense, he has explained that these Traditional peoples are "manipulated by left-wing ideological groups," that try "under an international conspiracy" to take the Amazon and its natural resources away from Brazil. An idea further stated by Foreign Minister Araujo,  who claimed that "climate change is a Marxist ploy."

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