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  • Cacique Raoni of Kayapo tribe delivers a speech in Xingu Indigenous Park, Brazil, Jan. 17, 2020.

    Cacique Raoni of Kayapo tribe delivers a speech in Xingu Indigenous Park, Brazil, Jan. 17, 2020. | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 January 2020
Opinion

Indigenous peoples denounced violence prompted by the extraction of natural resources in the Amazon basin.

After a four-day meeting carried out in Piaracu village, at the Mato Grosso state, in Brazil, over 600 Indigenous leaders Friday issued a manifesto denouncing the "genocide, ethnocide, and ecocide" planned by the far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

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"The white man is very greedy," chief Raoni Metuktire said and explained that the Brazilian government is threatening the survival of Indigenous peoples with plans to allow commercial projects on their protected lands.

"The current President is threatening our rights, our health, our territory," says the manifesto, about Bolsonaro's intentions to liberate mining, agribusiness, and land leasing in the Amazon basin.

International and national environmental activists also fear that the Brazilian presidency's plans will speed up the destruction of the Amazonian rainforests.

"Sonia Guajajara and Cacique Raoni against Bolsonaro's attacks on the environment and Indigenous peoples. Accompanied by Chico Mendes' daughter, Angela, the Indigenous people formalize an alliance to defend themselves against the current government's predatory policies."

"We do not accept mining, agribusiness, and the renting of our lands. Nor logging, illegal fishing, hydroelectric dams or other projects that will impact us directly and irreversibly," the Piaracu manifesto states.

This special meeting was called by Raoni Metuktire, the 90-year-old Kayapo chief who became an environmental campaigner in the 1980s with singer Sting at his side.

"We were convened by Chief Raoni to come together and denounce that the Brazilian government's political project is underway." ​​​​​​​

Indigenous peoples face not only the attacks of a neoliberal government, which is allied with transnational corporations, but also "the violence of a part of society that clearly expresses its racism," local outlet Politico commented and recalled that at least eight Indigenous leaders were killed in 2019, as publicly known.​​​​​​

In Brazil, one of the world's top meat and grains exporters, the agribusiness farm frontier has been moving rapidly towards the Amazon rainforests​​​​​​​ in recent years.

Invasions of Indigenous lands and protected areas by illegal loggers and miners have increased since the former Capitan Bolsonaro became president in January 2019.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Despite the daily violence that this process has unleashed, Indigenous peoples have not forgotten the importance of their struggle.

"If we stand together, we can resist. They have the power of the State. But we have the strength of our ancestral waters, flowers, and lands," said Angela, the daughter of Chico Mendes, a famous trade union leader and environmentalist assassinated in 1988.

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