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Explained: Why tribes in Brazil are protesting against President Jair Bolsonaro

Native tribes in Brazil came together to sign a manifesto on Friday, accusing Bolsonaro’s government of planning “genocide, ethnocide, and ecocide”.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: January 20, 2020 9:41:47 am
Jair Bolsonaro, Jair Bolsonaro Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro India Republic day, Jair Bolsonaro Brazil tribes, indian express explained Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro Bolsonaro is a staunch climate change sceptic. (Reuters)

Days ahead of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s visit to India as chief guest at the 71st Republic Day celebrations, tribal leaders in Brazil have launched a protest against their government’s policies regarding indigenous people.

Native tribes in Brazil came together to sign a manifesto on Friday, accusing Bolsonaro’s government of planning “genocide, ethnocide, and ecocide”, Reuters reported.

Bolsonaro was invited for the Republic Day function by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visited Brazil in November for the 11th BRICS Summit.

Explained: Why indigenous people are opposing Bolsonaro’s policies

A far-right populist, President Jair Bolsonaro is the most radical occupant of Brazil’s top office since the return of democracy to the country in 1985. Bolsonaro is proudly homophobic, openly misogynistic, swears by family and religious values, and has vowed to “cleanse” Brazil of corruption.

The Brazilian leader also holds controversial views about the land rights of indigenous communities that populate the Amazon forest. He has openly expressed disdain for environmental activists and NGOs.

Since coming to power in January 2019, Bolsonaro has sought to promote economic development in the Amazon region, home to 3 crore people.

Environmentalists have been opposing these plans, believing they would lead to the destruction of the forest. The Amazon rainforest, spreading over 55 lakh square km, is among the world’s most prominent carbon sinks. In August last year, Bolsonaro’s government received flak over its handling of massive fires that raged across the rainforest.

Last week, at the Xingu National Park in central Brazil, native leaders gathered to denounce the government’s plans to allow commercial mining and ranching on their protected lands.

“The government is attacking us and wants to grab our lands… We do not accept mining, agribusiness and the renting of our lands, nor logging, illegal fishing, hydroelectric dams or other projects that will impact us directly and irreversibly,” the manifesto says.

Members of Brazil’s farm lobby, who are among Bolsonaro’s key supporters, have been expanding into the Amazon lands, causing violent clashes with indigenous people. Encroachments into protected areas by illegal loggers and miners have also increased in the recent past.

Bolsonaro is a staunch climate change sceptic. During his election campaign, he had called climate change predictions a hoax, and advocated allowing businesses to expand by rolling back environmental safeguards.

Read | Brazil president is Chief Guest at Republic Day: Here’s how India, Brazil are connected

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