Brazil’s Indigenous Groups Mount Unprecedented Protest Against Destruction of the Amazon

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Source: The Intercept

Brasilia, Brazil DF August 26, 2021: Indigenous Indians from all parts of Brazil, descend on the capital to protest unjust laws from the government that hinder them.

Photo by Marcos Casiano/Shutterstock


Indigenous communities in Brazil organized the largest-ever native protests to block what they described as “a declaration of extermination” from lawmakers representing agribusiness, mining, and logging interests aligned with far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

The umbrella group Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil, or APIB, put together the protests as part of the weeklong “Struggle for Life” protest in the capital, Brasília, in anticipation of a decision from the Supreme Court that could invalidate Indigenous land claims.

“Our struggle takes as its target all governments that are complicit in Bolsonaro’s campaign of genocide, all corporations that seek to profit from it,” APIB said in a joint statement with Progressive International, a left-wing coalition that sent a delegation to survey the situation. “The fight against Bolsonaro extends far beyond the borders of Brazil.”

“We are the ones suffering. The government doesn’t suffer. So that’s why we’re here to fight.”

APIB expected the Supreme Court would strike down a challenge to Indigenous land claims during its protest, but the court postponed the judgment to next week after one vote was cast in favor of Indigenous rights. One right-wing lawmaker, whose fortune comes from agriculture, said he and his colleagues lobbied the justices to further delay the ruling so that Congress has time to pass measures that would strip Indigenous land rights through legislation instead of the courts.

Since 2019, Bolsonaro has used his executive authority to aggressively attack Indigenous rights, slash environmental protections, and cripple relevant law enforcement efforts — moves that have drawn international condemnation. Closely aligned with the powerful agribusiness lobby, the government has also pushed forward a slew of consequential bills in Congress that, if passed, would be a death sentence for many of Brazil’s Indigenous communities and, critics warn, the entire Amazon rainforest.

“We are the ones suffering. The government doesn’t suffer,” said Pasyma Panará, president of the Iakiô Association in the Xingu region of the Amazon. “So that’s why we’re here to fight.”

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