Brazil: Bolsonaro's electoral victory is a "black day" for indigenous peoples

Following Bolsonaro's election, indigenous peoples fear for their rights and livelihoods (Press Release)

Mit Jair Bolsonaro als Präsidenten müssen Brasiliens indigene Völker um ihre Rechte und ihr Überleben fürchten. Bild: Eduardo Fonseca Arraes via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

According to the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), the  outcome of the presidential election last Sunday in Brazil marks a "black day" for Brazil's indigenous peoples. "With Jair Bolsonaro as president, Brazil's indigenous peoples must fear for their rights and their survival. For Bolsonaro, human rights and minority rights are like words in a foreign language. He is planning to systematically open up the last retreat areas of the country's indigenous peoples for the industry – to extract raw materials and to implement other large-scale projects. The protection of the Amazonian forests is one of the biggest challenges of the past decades. Without effective protection, the indigenous peoples living there are in acute danger as well," stated Yvonne Bangert, the STP's expert on indigenous peoples, in Göttingen on Monday.

According to Bangert, there is a great danger that many of the indigenous territories that have been legally recognized in recent decades will lose their protection status – thus allowing for an extraction of raw materials, which is still prohibited there. "Under Bolsonaro, we can expect a radical change in Brazil's indigenous peoples policy – a dramatic regression that will affect the situation of indigenous peoples all over the world." Bolsanaro had won a run-off election against his rival Fernando Haddad (Worker's Party).

"Now, Bolsonaro will have to show gratitude to his lobby – the big landowners who are clearing forests on indigenous land to make room for even more soy monocultures," Bangert criticized. "During his election campaign, he had repeatedly announced plans to put an end to the establishment and protection of indigenous reserves, stating that the reserves are interfering with agribusiness. Thus, the minorities would have to adapt or disappear. Now, these plans could become a sad reality."

In the past, Germany had provided generous support for programs to protect the "green lung of the world" by protecting territories for indigenous peoples. In the opinion of the STP, these achievements are now in great danger. "In order to protect them and counteract this negative development, we will have to support non-governmental organizations focusing on human rights and environmental protection, which Bolsonaro had agitated against in his election campaign," Bangert emphasized.

Currently, indigenous communities are trying to demand protection for more than 1,306 territories, but the procedures are being delayed. More than 840 cases have not yet been completed, and more than 530 pending cases have not even been opened.

Headerimage: Eduardo Fonseca Arraes via Flickr