Published on
by

'This Is Their Land': Indigenous Activists Protest Bolsonaro's Environmental Policies in Brazil

"It was very difficult for us, our ancestors, to win these rights and little by little they are decreasing."

Up to 5,000 indigenous activists are expected in the city of Brasilia between Wednesday and Friday. As of Wednesday afternoon, at least 2,000 people had shown up and most were encamped in the heart of the city.  (Photo: via Avaaz/Twitter)

Thousands of indigenous Brazilians are marching on the country's capital for three days of lobbying and activism to protect the South American country's vast natural resources—which are under heightened threat from President Jair Bolsonaro's pro-exploitation regime. 

Up to 5,000 indigenous activists are expected in the city of Brasilia between Wednesday and Friday. As of Wednesday afternoon, at least 2,000 people had shown up and most were encamped in the heart of the city. 

"We are defenders of the land, we are defenders of the Amazon, of the forest," Alessandra Munduruku, a representative of the Munduruku tribe from the northern state of Pará, told The Guardian. "The white man is our finishing off our planet and we want to defend it."

The Guardian detailed the grievances against the Bolsonaro government that prompted the protest. 

Indigenous leaders are incensed by the Bolsonaro government's decision to transfer responsibility for demarcation of indigenous reserves to Brazil's agriculture ministry, which is controlled by members of a powerful farming lobby that has long opposed indigenous land rights. They also object to a decision to hand control of Brazil's cash-strapped indigenous agency Funai to a new ministry of women, family and human rights presided over by a conservative evangelical pastor.

The effort to stem the tide of opening the Amazon rainforest and other tribal lands to development comes as Bolsonaro faces pushback over his environmental policies from across the world. 

Earlier this month, as Common Dreams reported, an event to honor the Brazilian leader was moved from the American Museum of Natural History in large part because of Bolsonaro's positions on the Amazon. 

The Brazilian activists hope they can add to the pressure. 

"We came here for an important cause," said Camila Silveiro, who came to the city from the southern Brazilian state of Paraná. "It was very difficult for us, our ancestors, to win these rights and little by little they are decreasing."

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

Get our best delivered to your inbox.

The protest has backing from across the world. 

A petition at the site Avaaz showed signatures from six continents expressing support and solidarity. 

In Austria, Greenpeace activists held a protest outside the Brazilian Embassy in solidarity with the indigenous activists.

Indigenous leaders and allies protested in front of the Brazilian Mission to the U.N. in New York. 

"Let's stand with them," said Scottish language activist Àdhamh Ó Broin.

The protests will continue until Friday. Glenn Shepard, an anthropologist at the Emílio Goeldi Museum in Belém, capital of Pará, told The Financial Times that the stewardship of the indigenous people of Brazil has thus far stopped deforestation. 

"This is their land," said Shepard, "they owe nothing to anybody."

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Won't Exist.

Please select a donation method:



Share This Article