In his second global stage moment, President Bolsonaro used the opening session of the UN General Assembly in NY to reveal to the world his far right, pro-dictatorship, anti-indigenous rights program. In a little over 30 minutes, he defied critics of his environmental policies and attacked environmental fines, claiming that the numbers on the record forest fires registered in 2019 are inflated by global media to target him.
New Yorker Magazine summarized: “Bolsonaro gave a predictably defiant defense of his country’s policies regarding the environment, especially the Amazon rainforest, sixty per cent of which lies within Brazil’s borders. For non-Brazilians, hearing Bolsonaro speak on the topic must have been a surreal experience (…) This summer, the Amazon’s forests went up in flames. But, on Tuesday, Bolsonaro asserted that the forests were “practically untouched,” and blamed a “lying and sensationalist media” for propagating fake news about their destruction”.
Bolsonaro also decried the notion that the Amazon is “a heritage of humankind,” in a message directed to French president Macron. He reaffirmed that there will be no new demarcation of indigenous lands and complained about the extension of the current demarcated reservations. He concentrated attacks against Chief Raoni, a historic indigenous leader that was nominated to receive the Nobel Prize in 2019. “The views of one indigenous leader do not represent all Brazilian indigenous communities. Often, some of these leaders, like Chief Raoni, are manipulated by foreign governments in their information wars to advance their interests over the Amazon,” he said.
On the next day (25), Chief Raoni went to the National Congress for a hearing and responded to the president’s attacks at the UNGA: “Bolsonaro said I am not a leader, but he is the one that can’t lead. He needs to leave, before something really bad happens,he needs to leave. For the better of all people”.
Data released by the Indigenous Missionary Council (Cimi) on September 24, show that invasions of indigenous lands grew 44% in 2019, when compared to 2018. The invasions for gold digging, hunting, land grabbing and exploitation of natural resources coincide with the increase in 22% in the number of indigenous people murdered. “The aggressiveness in the speech of the President of the Republic and members of the government serves as fuel for the violence committed against the territories and the native peoples”, said Cimi.