Brazilian tribes back manifesto to save Amazon habitat from President Bolsonaro

Indigenous leader Cacique Raoni of Kayapo tribe delivers a speech during a four-day pow wow in Piaracu village, in Xingu Indigenous Park, near Sao Jose do Xingu, Mato Grosso state, Brazil, January 17, 2020. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

Indigenous leader Cacique Raoni of Kayapo tribe delivers a speech during a four-day pow wow in Piaracu village, in Xingu Indigenous Park, near Sao Jose do Xingu, Mato Grosso state, Brazil, January 17, 2020. REUTERS

XINGU INDIGENOUS PARK, Brazil, (Reuters) – Leaders of native tribes in Brazil issued a rallying call to protect the Amazon rainforest and its indigenous people from what they called the “genocide, ethnocide and ecocide” planned by the country’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.           

A manifesto signed yesterday at the end of a four-day meeting in the Xingu reservation said Bolsonaro was threatening the survival of indigenous people with plans to allow commercial mining and ranching on their protected lands.

“The government is attacking us and wants to grab our lands,” the document said, calling for a year of demonstrations and the support of foreign organizations and environmental activists.

Bolsonaro has vowed to encourage economic development in the Amazon to lift the tribes from poverty and improve the lives of 30 million Brazilians who live there. Environmentalists fear his plans will speed up destruction of the rainforest, which is a bulwark against global climate change.

“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 four-page document said.

The meeting in the village of Piaraçu on the Xingu river was called by Raoni Metuktire, the 90-year-old Kayapó chief who became an environmental campaigner in the 1980s with British rock singer Sting at his side.

The tribes said the Brazilian state under Bolsonaro had failed to fulfill its constitutional duty to protect indigenous lands and the surrounding environment by stopping illegal activity and punishing invaders.

They also held the government responsible for the poisoning of the “air, soil and rivers” by the uncontrolled use of chemicals in agriculture adjacent to their reservations.

“We were convened by Chief Raoni with the goal of coming together and denouncing that a political project by the Brazilian government of genocide, ethnocide and ecocide is underway,” the manifesto said.

Bolsonaro’s office declined to comment.

Brazil’s indigenous affairs agency, Funai, run by a police officer appointed by Bolsonaro, said earlier this week that the meeting in the Xingu was a “totally private event” that it could not support because it was not “in line” with government policy.

The farm frontier in Brazil, one of the world’s top meat and grains exporters, has advanced into the Amazon region in recent years, causing land conflicts with indigenous people.

Invasions of reservations by illegal loggers and miners have increased since Bolsonaro took office last year, leading to violent clashes. At least eight indigenous leaders were killed last year in circumstances that have not yet been clarified.
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  • kamtanblog  On 01/19/2020 at 1:02 am

    Surprise surprise !

    Capitalist greed (legal/illegal) is insatiable !



  • mudhead2  On 01/19/2020 at 5:54 am

    These people are the true natives of the land and have their rights which must be up held

    • Ken Persaud  On 01/19/2020 at 6:39 am

      It is crucial to have legislative safeguards to prevent locals from becoming a minority in their own country. But what guarantees are there that it will work?

      You live in a country where the man in the White House doesn’t respect his oath of office to uphold the constitution. Do you think little Guyana will have a chance when challenged by hostile circumstances such as border security and protection and preservation of indigenous rights?

      I hope the worst case scenario doesn’t become reality. Guyana’s ship is sailing in choppy waters.


      • bruce.goldman  On 01/19/2020 at 9:53 pm

        Why are you conflating the mass murder of Indigenous tribes to that of a few extra migrants in Guyana?

        Shocks me because I’m a Brazilian Jew who acknowledges that the Indigenous have rights to be protected from state violence.

  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 01/19/2020 at 2:32 pm

    How boldly we humans, born and bred on capitalist greed and profit-making, walk into the dark night!

  • bruce.goldman  On 01/19/2020 at 9:58 pm

    Bolsonaro appealed to the Southern Brasilians who are mostly of European stock. He also gained popularity with the anti-LGBT crowd, using Christianity as a front to fool the masses.

    After he is done murdering the Indigenous tribes and cutting down the Amazon, voters might revert to voting for the true democratic party.

  • dhanpaul narine  On 01/20/2020 at 1:20 pm

    What happens to the indigenous peoples of Brazil will affect those in other countries, especially in neighboring Guyana. Unlike most Guyanese, I lived and worked among the Amerindians in the Upper Mazaruni. I learned their language and ‘dreamt their dreams.’ The Amerindians of that region watch closely how their counterparts are treated in other countries and their calls for reforms, including land titles, are motivated by policies of ineptitude practiced by governments in South America.
    Amerindians are a political force in Guyana. They have one of the biggest fertility rates in the country and they don’t migrate to other countries. Their votes could be crucial in the upcoming elections, along with the mixed population.
    Brazil has a long history of treating its indigenous peoples badly, not only the Xingu but the Yanomamo, and other sub groups.
    Guyanese Amerindians have suffered at the hands of local rulers but never at the scale of Brazil, and other countries.

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