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According to an audio leaked by the Brazilian Network of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (Apib), a group of Kayapó indigenous leaders from the south of Pará were encouraged to press for mining on their lands in a meeting that brought together President Jair Bolsonaro, the head of Funai [Brazilian National Indigenous Peoples Foundation], Marcelo Xavier, and the logger João Gesse. The meeting, which was not on Bolsonaro’s official agenda, was scheduled with the objective of “finding sustainable solutions” for the indigenous peoples.

In the audio, confirmed as trustworthy by the Mining Observatory, Gesse attacks NGOs and says he “wants to help”, in a threatening tone. “We are involving the president of the Republic, wanting to help, ministers, and I have to listen to this litany about cooperatives? The patience is over. Do you want to stay with NGOs? Fine, stay with these damned NGOs, but remember: you live in Brazil. General [and Vice President] Mourão, the Army, the Federal Police, are going to be on top of them,” he said. The cooperative mentioned by the logger, of which he was one of the articulators, is Kayapó Ltda., which aims at the “agro-industrial exploitation” and exploitation of the mineral resources of the Kayapó Reserve, a target of criticism from chiefs and leaders of the region. According to Apib, the logger is angry because, allegedly, indigenous people are being pressured to take a position against mining activities in the region by NGOs.

Gesse confirmed the audio and said that the president of Funai consulted him with the intention of taking the cooperative model to other indigenous peoples. Bolsonaro, on the other hand, said in the meeting “we did what we had to do”, in reference to the forwarding of the bill 191/2020, which authorizes mining within indigenous lands, in addition to stating that “the indigenous who want to work with mining have to pressure their politicians.”

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