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Brazil’s Indigenous Tribes Protest Bill That Would Allow Commercial Mining on Their Land

Carrying banners that read “The invaders are coming out! The miners are coming out, the farming businesses are going out! Bolsonaro is going out!” about 100 indigenous peoples from six Brazilian states protested against the legislation, which was supported by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and mining lobbyists.

Lobbyists have advocated for the revival of the bill – known as Law 191 – since it was rejected by the Brazilian Congress last June. Last week, farmers ‘and miners’ organizations launched a coordinated lobbying campaign, meeting with government officials and urging Congress to consider and pass Bill 191, which would regulate mining, including mining. oil and gas projects, as well as hydroelectric dams, on indigenous territories for the first time.

Indigenous groups in Brasilia were also protesting bills to give Congress the power to demarcate traditional protected lands (instead of indigenous affairs agency FUNAI) and demanded that the federal government adhere to a court ruling. supreme last August aimed at expelling miners from indigenous lands. There are nearly 450 demarcated indigenous territories in Brazil.

President Bolsonaro signed Bill 191 in February last year. During the ceremony at the Planalto Palace, he said it was a long-standing “dream” to free indigenous reserves for mining. “I hope this dream is in the hands of Bento [Albuquerque, Minister of Mines and Energy] and the votes of parliamentarians will be carried out. Indigenous people are human beings like us, ”he said.

He has long argued that the natural resources of indigenous lands should be used for the economic well-being of indigenous groups and the country. In a social media rant in April 2019, he described indigenous lands as having “billions of reais underground”.

“The natives cannot continue to be poor in rich land,” he said.

But indigenous activists noted on Monday – Brazil’s “National Indigenous Day” – that they do not agree with Bolsonaro’s vision to profit from the wild lands, and do not believe it will benefit them. “We are here to demand respect from the federal government, that it respects our rights. This government is killing us, it wants to destroy our rights and our territories,” said activist Eliseu Kaiowa from the country Guarani Kaiowa. Facebook page of the articulation of indigenous peoples in the southern region.

In an open letter Monday, members of the Munduruku indigenous group also warned that Bill 191 “will only bring more destruction to our people and our forest.” Last year, 2,052 hectares – an area equivalent to more than two thousand football fields – were deforested in Munduruku territory, according to data from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), the official government institute that monitors deforestation in Brazil.

Illegal miners have been accused of threatening members of Munduruku who report their activities on indigenous lands. A leader of the Munduruku women’s group told CNN last month that minors had audio messaged her claiming they would kill her and her family in their home. The state prosecutor of Para, home to Munduruku territory, said he had repeatedly alerted federal authorities to illegal gold mining in the area and, since 2017, had asked the courts compel federal forces to intervene and “prevent a violent attack by illegal minors on indigenous peoples.” ”
Brazil’s Indigenous Tribes Protest Bill That Would Allow Commercial Mining on Their Land

According to a study released Monday by the Brazilian National Committee for the Defense of the Territories against Mining, the rise in gold prices during the Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increase in illegal gold mining in the territories natives of the Amazon rainforest and other Brazilian lands.

Deforestation typically exploded during Bolsonaro’s presidency. While the president passed several decrees and laws to protect the Amazon, he simultaneously cut funding for government-run environmental protection and monitoring programs, and pushed to open indigenous lands to agriculture. commercial and mining – acts that have cost him credibility among environmentalists nationwide. His administration’s recently announced plan to reduce deforestation in the Amazon has been heavily criticized by critics for its “modest” ambitions.
This week, Bolsonaro is due to attend an environmental summit of world leaders on April 22, convened by US President Joe Biden. In a letter confirming his presence, Bolsonaro said he was determined to eliminate illegal deforestation in the Amazon by 2030, but that would require “massive resources” and support “from the United States government, the private sector. and American civil society. welcome. “

Reporting provided by Rodrigo Pedroso and Caitlin Hu of CNN.


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