Just after reading about how Trump’s ethnic cleansing-based government shutdown has the “accidental” side effect of hurting Native people, I read about Jair Bolsonaro’s first act as president of Brazil.
Brazil’s new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has stripped the government department charged with protecting the country’s Indigenous people of much of its responsibilities, which distressed critics say could lead to the destruction of dozens of tribes.
Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo reported the decision was announced just hours after the new President was sworn in as the country’s leader on Tuesday (local time), and confirmed a pre-election pledge to roll back Indigenous rights and protections for the Amazon.
Funai, the department established in 1967 to protect the rights of Brazil’s Indigenous people, has been effectively broken up, with one of its biggest responsibilities — to identify and draw boundaries of Indigenous land across the country — handed over to the Ministry of Agriculture.
The rest of Funai will be transferred to the Ministry of Human Rights, which is led by evangelical pastor Damares Alves.
Critics of the change have described it as a “catastrophe” for Brazil’s 900,000 Indigenous people, who could face total annihilation.
One of the country’s top Indigenous leaders, Sônia Guajajara, posted on social media, “The break-up has begun”.
The decision is part of one of Mr Bolsonaro’s key election promises — that he would deny new land claims by Indigenous tribes and that he wants to open their land to commercial mining and farming.
He argued they had a right to charge royalties to improve their quality of life and to integrate with the rest of Brazil, comparing them to animals trapped in a zoo.
Brazil is home to about 100 uncontacted Indigenous tribes, the most in the world, and their protection from outsiders is crucial to their survival.
Usefully, these are the bullet points from the article:
Jair Bolsonaro pledged to refuse any new land rights claims and open existing land up to commercial mining and farming
Brazil is home to about 100 uncontacted tribes, the largest in any one country
Bolsonaro has compared Indigenous people to animals trapped in a zoo
I know I’m shocked to see leading Republicans embrace Bolsonaro.
Congratulations to Brazil’s new President Bolsonaro. It’s great to have another U.S.-friendly leader in South America, who will join the fight against dictatorships in Venezuela and Cuba, and who clearly understands the danger of China’s expanding influence in the region.
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) January 2, 2019
I hope Hell exists so that these people end up there.