October 22, 2020

Indians protest in Brazil against law that will allow mining on their lands

Fifty indigenous people from different ethnic groups in Brazil protested on Wednesday against the bill presented by President Jair Bolsonaro to allow commercial mining in protected lands, a measure they consider the “worst nightmare.”

The Indians delivered a letter to the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia, in which they expressed their “repudiation” for the project and requested their help to curb their progress in the National Congress.

“We believe that this project, which opens our lands to the exploitation and economic interests of the rich and powerful, means a declaration of war for the indigenous peoples of Brazil,” said the letter.

According to the bill presented by Bolsonaro, Brazilian Indians will not have veto power over mining or hydroelectric generation projects in their reserves but will be compensated and will have a share in the profits.

The project, one of the main campaign promises of Bolsonaro, also allows the Indians themselves to economically exploit their lands through activities such as agriculture, livestock and tourism, which is currently vetoed in the reserves, which are territories owned by the State but delimited for the usufruct of the ancestral peoples that occupied them.

“Freedom for us is to enjoy our national territory without mining, without hydroelectricity and without agribusiness, in communion with rivers, trees and animals,” the letter adds.

Attorney Joenia Wapichana, the first indigenous woman to occupy a seat in the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil, told Efe that the project presented by the ultra-right-wing president is “unconstitutional” and poses another danger for the indigenous people.

Even Brasilia arrived from the southern state of Paraná, the indigenous Ingaté, of the Kaingang ethnic group, who strongly criticized the government policies defended by Bolsonaro for considering that they are “destroying” nature.

“He knows what he is doing and he does it because of evil, we have the right to our land,” said Ingaté.

And he added: “We want respect. That they stop destroying nature, putting fire in the forests, dirtying the water we drink. It has to stop.”

Since assuming the Presidency on January 1, 2019, Bolsonaro has been in favor of the economic exploitation of the Amazon and came to affirm that the economic exploitation of indigenous reserves is an old dream of his and also of some communities that want to promote their development and have the living conditions of other Brazilians.

“What Bolsonaro calls dream is for us the worst of nightmares,” says the letter sent by the natives to Congress.


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