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

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

Published 31 January 2019

Several Indigenous organizations called for protests across Brazil against what they perceive as a threat to their territories.

Several Indigenous organizations from across Brazil protested Thursday against the environmental policies promoted by far-right President Jair Bolsonaro that are threatening their territories and lifestyles.

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Demonstrators in towns, cities and remote villages rejected Bolsonaro’s strategy to strip the National Foundation of the Indigenous (FUNAI) of its traditional responsibility to demarcate indigenous territories and prevent economic ventures in them while transferring its competences to the Agriculture Ministry, led by landowner Tereza Cristina Correa.

The protest was called by the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) and the National Indigenous Movement (MNI), among others, as part of a campaign called ‘Indigenous Blood: Not One More Drop of Blood,’ that aims to defend Indigenous rights in the South American country in times of Bolsonaro.

“Mobilization by the Kisedje people at the Khikatxi village in the Wawi Indigenous Territory, east of Xingu, Mato Grosso. Not One More Drop of Blood! #JaneiroVermelho.

Pictures: Kamikia Kisedje.”

In a press release, APIB explained that the nationwide mobilization demands “protection of the rights stipulated in the Constitution, combating violence and the changes carried out by the new government.”

"We know them [landowners] are the biggest enemies of Indigenous peoples." one of the demonstrators told EFE. "With this protest, we're trying to stop the Indigenous bloodbath related to land limits.

In Santa Ines, state of Maranhao, Indigenous Awa, Ka’apor, Guajajara, Tremembe and Gamela peoples protested chanting “We want the whole FUNAI” and other resistance slogans in favor of their rights.

The organization Survival International echoed the voice of Indigenous communities denouncing that during the last days there have been invasions to their territories by big ranching and logging companies, a violation to the Indigenous rights stipulated in the Constitution.

“Having suffered genocide and massacres for 500 years, the Indigenous peoples of Brazil won’t be scared by President Bolsonaro, even though his opinions are disgusting and antiquated,” said Stephen Corry, director of Survival International. “It’s inspiring seeing how much people support them around the world.”

Survival International also denounced that attacks by landowners and mercenaries against Indigenous peoples have increased due Bolsonaro's racist rhetoric and policies.

TeleSUR’s correspondent in Brazil, Ignacio Lemus, reported that Bolsonaro is trying to “integrate” the communities to hand over their territories to extractivist companies.

“According to Bolsonaro, Indigenous people must integrate to the capitalist system, meaning to allow extractivist rural, logging and mining activities in their territories. A frontal attack against those who believe in wellbeing and protecting the land like their own bodies.”

Demonstrations were registered in 22 states and the Federal District in Brazil, besides support protests in Switzerland, the U.S., England, Canada, Portugal and Ireland.

Some organizations, such as ‘Marea del Medio Ambiente,’ protested outside of the Environment Ministry in Brasilia demanding better environmental education, combating deforestation and observing climate change, attributes that Bolsonaro’s administration hopes to eliminate. While there, organizations blamed the new government’s environmental policies for the tragic collapse of a dam in Minas Gerais and demanded an end to the "indigenous genocide."

Suelen, from the Tekoa Paranapua tribe, says Bolsonaro wants to strip them of their rights and "make Indigenous peoples weaker.

"But that won't happen because Indigenous peoples are more united than ever," he said. "We only want some land to live, plant and take care of our children. We can't allow white men to take away the little we have."

Bolsonaro often remarks how legislation over indigenous territories stops development projects and advocates for a more liberal policy that allows economic ventures into protected indigenous territory, arguing that Indigenous people control too much of the Brazilian territory.

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