Brazilian presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks to international reporters in Sao Paulo on August 22, 2022. (Photo: Miguel Schincariol/AFP via Getty Images)

Brazil's Lula Vows to 'Put an End to Illegal Mining' if Elected President

"If the world is willing to help, keeping a tree standing in the Amazon may be worth more than any investment," the leftist front-runner told international journalists.

Asserting that "it is not necessary to cut down one tree" in the Amazon rainforest to raise cattle or plant crops, Brazilian presidential front-runner Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva vowed Monday to crack down on the illicit mining and logging that has ravaged the region and its Indigenous inhabitants during the administration of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

"Illegal mining is a tumor growing in our country."

"We are going to put an end to illegal mining," da Silva told international journalists in Sao Paulo. "If the world is willing to help, keeping a tree standing in the Amazon may be worth more than any investment."

"Brazil will look after the climate issue like never before," the Workers' Party nominee added. "We want to be responsible for maintaining the climate."

Monday's remarks followed an April promise by da Silva to end illegal mining on Indigenous lands and to reverse Bolsonaro's far-right policies, which many native people and their advocates have called "genocidal."

In April da Silva also committed to creating a Ministry of Indigenous Peoples, explaining that "someone will have to take over the ministry and it won't be a white man like me, it will have to be an Indian."

On Monday da Silva said the new ministry would reestablish the norms and institutions that have been under relentless assault by Bolsonaro, a climate skeptic who has called himself "Captain Chainsaw."

Bolsonaro supports a series of bills advancing through the National Congress that, if passed, would allow mining on Indigenous lands, relax restrictions on the use of pesticides, and, according to opponents, greenlight illegal logging and land seizures.

Sonia Guajajara, a member of the Guajajara people and a candidate for the Chamber of Deputies--the lower house of Congress--representing the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL), said Monday that "illegal mining is a tumor growing in our country."

"Bolsonaro's incentive to illegal mining has exacerbated violence against the Indigenous peoples," she added, according to teleSUR. "Misrule continues to exterminate peoples who protect and fight for our future."

Illegal miners are responsible for frequent--and sometimes deadly--attacks on Indigenous people and communities. Da Silva's April pledge came just days after at least two Yanomami men opposing mining were shot dead and numerous others were injured by members of a pro-mining group of Tirei people, who were reportedly given 80 guns by illegal miners.

During his speech Monday, da Silva also decried the "barbaric" June murders of Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira and British journalist Dom Phillips, who he called "victims of a massacre, a barbarity, the kind of which should no longer occur in Brazil."

According to the most recent aggregate polling, da Silva enjoys an 8-point lead over Bolsonaro in the first round of presidential voting, which will take place on October 2.

Earlier this month, Brazilians took to the streets of cities across the nation to defend their country's imperiled democracy in the face of baseless claims of fraud and what critics have called "coup-mongering" threats by Bolsonaro to subvert the election if he does not win.

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Da Silva called Bolsonaro "a poorly made copy of Trump" during his remarks Monday, a reference to former U.S. President Donald Trump and his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, which culminated in the deadly January 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol insurrection.

"Trump also tried to avoid accepting the result. They tried to storm the Capitol," said da Silva. "But he had to back down and I'm certain that here in Brazil the election result will be accepted without any kind of questioning."

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