March 4, 2021

Xingu Indians denounce that loggers are devastating their reserves

Representatives of the Xingu Indians, one of the areas of the Brazilian Amazon most affected by deforestation, denounced this Saturday that loggers, in addition to environmental reserves, are devastating indigenous territories, "and are passing over us."

"They are removing wood from our lands. When we protest they threaten us. They are passing over us," Chief Wanggot, leader of the Yuru village, one of the Arara ethnic communities in the so-called Middle Xingu, told Efe. in an appointment of different towns in the Amazon city of Altamira.

The leader invited the press to visit the Arara reserve to verify their complaints about loggers and fishermen invasions to the reserves and help them "do Justice."

"For now there are no garimpeiros (artisanal miners) but there are many loggers and fishermen. They are invading whenever they like even though our reserve is registered and approved," he said.

Wanggot said that recently a group of Indians from his village, with the help of environmental prosecutors, went to one of the invaded areas to remove the material from the loggers but soon after they appeared armed and recovered everything.

"We are very weak and our land is small, we cannot lose it or share it with garimpeiros (as President Jair Bolsonaro proposes). We are afraid because, if we lose it, how are we going to support our families?" The leader questioned, who denounced that the situation may be aggravated because members of his community already say they are willing to defend themselves with weapons.

The complaints were made at the III Fair of the Peoples of the Middle Xingú, an event organized by the state National Foundation of the Indian (Funai) to allow the Indians of the region to approach the inhabitants of the city of Altamira and expose their claims and his culture.

In the Middle Xingu region, the intermediate stretch of the Xingu River near the cities of Altamira and Sao Felix, live some 5,000 Indians of nine ethnicities, including the Arara, Assurino, Araweté, Parakana, Juruna and Xikrin.

Their complaints coincide with the disclosure on Friday of a report by the non-governmental organization Socio Socio Ambiental (ISA) according to which 533 trees were felled in the Xingu basin every minute in the last two months.

The study, based on images from the Sentinel-1 satellite, denounced that between May and June 39,000 hectares of rainforests were devastated in the Xingu River basin, one of the main tributaries of the Amazon and covering important jungle areas in the Brazilian states from Mato Grosso and Pará.

The destroyed area, equivalent to that of one of the largest Brazilian cities such as Belo Horizonte, is 44.7% higher than the one devastated in the same two months of last year.

While in the Xingu basin in Mato Grosso, 7,000 hectares were deforested in both months, 99% illegally, in the Pará that devastation jumped from 10,611 hectares in May to 21,462 in June.

"The resources and the institutional support for the control and field operations have diminished. The problem is no longer knowing where they are deforesting but the lack of punishment to the offenders, which leaves the message that the crime compensates", according to Ricardo Abad, ISA specialist in remote measurement studies.

The Xingu basin is home to 26 indigenous peoples and almost half of its area constitutes or environmental reserve or indigenous territory, a strategy adopted by previous Brazilian governments to try to stop deforestation in one of the regions of the Amazon most threatened by producers seeking to expand their areas of cultivation or breeding of cattle.

But the region suffered a severe blow with the construction on the Xingu River itself of the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant, the third largest in the world, whose dam flooded a gigantic jungle area and attracted thousands of people for its construction and operation.

For the ISA investigators, however, the current increase in deforestation in Xingu is a consequence of the arrival of Jair Bolsonaro from the extreme right, who made the policy of combating environmental crimes more flexible and whose controversial statements have given courage to farmers and Garimpeiros interested in advancing in the Amazon.

Bolsonaro dismissed Ricardo Galvao from Friday as director of the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), the body responsible for monitoring and disseminating data on deforestation in the Amazon, after accusing him of damaging the country's image for spreading allegedly false information about the destruction of the Amazon.

Since INPE reported that deforestation had grown by 88% in June, the ultra-rightist leader has accused his officials of acting in bad faith, not being patriotic and serving the interests of opposition parties.

Joedson Alves and Carlos Moreno

. (tagsToTranslate) Xingu (t) denounce (t) loggers (t) devastating (t) reservations

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