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.
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.
Reporting provided by Rodrigo Pedroso and Caitlin Hu of CNN.