Indigenous peoples back manifesto to save Amazon habitat from Bolsonaro

Kuikuro men, from an Indigenous clan that stems from the Xingu First Nation. (Image by Valter Campanato/ABr – Agência Brasil, Wikimedia Commons).

By Reuters - January 19, 2020

Leaders of native peoples 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 on Friday 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.

Indigenous 'tribes' rejected Bolsonaro’s 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 indigenous peoples from poverty and improve the lives of 30 million Brazilians who live there. Environmentalists fear his plans will speed up the 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 First Nations said the Brazilian state under Bolsonaro had failed to fulfil 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.

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.

(Reporting by Ricardo Moraes and Leonarod Benassatto; Writing by Anthony Boadle Editing by Paul Simao).


Brazil's indigenous to sue Bolsonaro for saying they're 'evolving'

24. January 2020

BRASILIA (Reuters) - The main organization representing Brazil’s 300 indigenous tribes said on Friday it would sue far-right President Jair Bolsonaro for racism after he said indigenous people were “evolving” and becoming more human.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro looks on as he leaves the Alvorada Palace in Brasilia, Brazil January 22, 2020. FILE PHOTO:  REUTERS/Adriano Machado

“We need to put a stop to this perverse man,” Sonia Guajajara, leader of the Association of Indigenous Peoples (APIB), wrote on Twitter. “APIB will go to court against Jair Bolsonaro for the crime of racism.”

Racism is considered a serious crime in Brazil and can carry a sentence of up to five years.

The controversial comments, the latest in a series of presidential outbursts on Brazil’s tribes, came in a video posted on social media on Thursday.

“The Indian has changed, he is evolving and becoming more and more, a human being like us,” Bolsonaro said. “What we want is to integrate him into society so he can own his land.”

The presidency did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the potential lawsuit.

APIB lawyer Eloy Terena said the organization was preparing to make its case before the Supreme Court, the only court that can judge a president. APIB also asked Brazil’s public prosecutor to investigate Bolsonaro for the crime of racism.

Bolsonaro has previously said indigenous reserves are too large and his government wants to allow commercial mining and agriculture on these reservations.

He has said the indigenous live in poverty like “animals in zoos” and wants to assimilate them into Brazilian society and the economy. Tribal leaders decry this as planned ethnocide aimed at eliminating their cultures.

A former army captain who was a congressman for 28 years before becoming president, Bolsonaro has a history of making racist, misogynist and homophobic statements.

He once said on the floor of the lower house that Brazil should have followed Colonel George Armstrong Custer’s example in dealing “efficiently” with indigenous peoples in the United States.

Brazil has some 850,000 indigenous people, most of whom live on reservations that account for 12% of the national territory in Latin America’s largest country.

Bolsonaro has said he will not approve “a single centimeter” more of indigenous land claims and has suggested that some of the larger reservations could have their boundaries reviewed.

Environmentalists warn that these moves to assimilate indigenous peoples could speed up deforestation in the Amazon where the reservations are considered effective means of preserving the forest.

Indigenous leaders meeting in the Xingu reservation last week issued a rallying call to protect the Amazon rainforest and its indigenous people from the “genocide, ethnocide and ecocide” they accuse Bolsonaro of planning.

Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Daniel Wallis

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


Glenn Greenwald Speaks: Bolsonaro Is Trying to Silence Me


The charges are “an obvious attempt to attack a free press in retaliation for the revelations we reported about... the Bolsonaro government,” Greenwald told The Daily Beast.

By Lloyd Grove - 21. January

Picture credit: REUTERS

Famed journalist Glenn Greenwald on Tuesday reacted to the news that the Brazilian government has charged him with “cybercrimes” by railing against President Jair Bolsonaro’s regime and its attempts to silence the press.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday morning that Brazilian prosecutors alleged that Greenwald was part of a “criminal organization” that hacked into the cellphones of public officials and prosecutors. In multiple stories for The Intercept, which he co-founded, Greenwald published some of those leaked embarrassing messages and, per a criminal complaint, damaged the reputation of an anti-corruption task force.

“The Bolsonaro government and the movement that supports it has made repeatedly clear that it does not believe in basic press freedoms—from Bolsonaro's threats against Folha to his attacks on journalists that have incited violence to Sergio Moro’s threats from the start to classify us as ‘allies of the hackers’ for revealing his corruption,” Greenwald said in a statement to The Daily Beast.

“Less than two months ago, the Federal Police, examining all the same evidence cited by the Public Ministry, stated explicitly that not only have I never committed any crime but that I exercised extreme caution as a journalist never even to get close to any participation,” he continued. “Even the Federal Police under Minister Moro's command said what is clear to any rational person: I did nothing more than do my job as a journalist—ethically and within the law.”

“This denunciation—brought by the same prosecutor who just tried and failed to criminally prosecute the head of the Brazilian Bar Association for criticizing Minister Moro—is an obvious attempt to attack a free press in retaliation for the revelations we reported about Minister Moro and the Bolsonaro government,” Greenwald asserted. “It is also an attack on the Brazilian Supreme Court, which ruled in July that I am entitled to have my press freedom protected in response to other retaliatory attacks from Judge Moro, and even an attack on the findings of the Federal Police, which concluded explicitly after a comprehensive investigation that I committed no crimes and solely acted as a journalist.

“We will not be intimidated by these tyrannical attempts to silence journalists. I am working right now on new reporting and will continue to do so. Many courageous Brazilians sacrificed their liberty and even life for Brazilian democracy and against repression, and I feel an obligation to continue their noble work.”

Greenwald and his husband, David Miranda, have been tangling with the Jair Bolsonaro regime ever since the right-wing populist became president of Brazil—through a questionable election—in January 2019.

Aside from repeated death threats from Bolsonaro’s supporters, echoing their leader’s virulent homophobia, the president himself has threatened Greenwald with imprisonment while other government officials have threatened investigations of their personal finances and to take their two adopted children from them.

During a radio appearance in November, Greenwald got into a fistfight, live on the air, with a far-right journalist and Bolsonaro supporter who had urged Brazil’s juvenile court to investigate Greenwald’s family. After Greenwald repeatedly called Augusto Nunes a “coward,” Nunes slapped him and Greenwald responded in kind as others in the studio held the two combatants back.

“We are the antithesis of Bolsonaro,” Miranda told The New York Times in July, a few weeks after The Intercept Brasil, which Greenwald edits, published explosive text messages between government officials that provoked a firestorm in Brazilian politics and cast doubt on the legitimacy on Bolsonaro’s election. “We’re everything they hate.”

The messages implicated Brazilian prosecutors and judges in a plot to arrest and jail Bolsonaro’s opponent, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, on bogus charges and prevent him from running for a third term in the 2018 election.

An investigation conducted by the Brazilian federal police identified the hacker who accessed the text messages and cleared Greenwald of wrongdoing, while The Intercept Brasil and Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes pointed out that publishing the messages was protected under the freedom of the press provisions of the 1988 Brazilian constitution.


Lloyd Grove - Editor At Large @TheLloydGrovelloyd.grove