Indigenous Communities Protest Against Bolsonaro
Thousands of indigenous Brazilians took to the streets of the nation’s capital, Brasilia, on Friday as part of the three-day Free Land Camp, an annual movement for indigenous land and cultural rights.
Over 4,000 people representing nearly 300 indigenous ethnicities from across Brazil camped out in front of the National Congress in Brasilia. This year demonstrators marched against far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, whose pro-business agenda has threatened indigenous territories in the Amazon.
The Free Land Camp, organized by the Articulation of the Indigenous People of Brazil (APIB), is particularly concerned with the recent transfer of land reserve and environmental licensing rights from FUNAI, under the Justice Department, to the Ministry of Agriculture, controlled by the agribusiness lobby. Bolsonaro also eliminated the government offices that formerly protected health and education of indigenous people.
Bolsonaro has repeatedly called into question the existence of indigenous land reserves and has previously proclaimed that he will not cede more land to indigenous communities. Elected with the help of agribusiness lobbies, Bolsonaro has vowed to free up indigenous land for commercial farming and development.
Present at the Free Land Camp demonstrations was Joenia Wapichan, the first indigenous woman elected to Brazil’s congress, who claims that the government is anti-indigenous.
As the march continued to the justice and health ministries on Friday, ten indigenous leaders met with the justice minister to discuss the reinstatement of FUNAI.
Since the election of Bolsonaro in January, there has been an increase in invasions of indigenous lands, particularly by loggers, farmers and developers emboldened by the president’s rhetoric.