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Supreme Court reverses trial that nullified the demarcation of Indigenous Land Guyraroka

Guarani Kaiowá protest in front of the Supreme Court

Credit: Tiago Miotto/Cimi

8 Apr 21

Supreme Court reverses trial that nullified the demarcation of Indigenous Land Guyraroka

In a what was considered a victory by the Guarani Kaiowá people, the Supreme Court (STF) granted an appeal that seeks to reverse the annulment of the demarcation of the Guyraroka Indigenous Land (TI Guyraroka), in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

According to a note issued by the Indigenous Missionary Council (Cimi) on the decision, the case of the TI Guyraroka is emblematic in the struggle of indigenous peoples against the “Marco Temporal” [temporal landmark] – a thesis of the STF that hurts the indigenous right to land, by establishing that indigenous peoples would only have the right to the demarcation of the lands that they were already occupying on October 5,th 1988, the date on which the Brazilian Constitution was approved. In 2014, the demarcation of the Indigenous Land was annulled on the basis of the temporal landmark. Four years later, the Guarani Kaiowá people filed an appeal to annul the decision, whose trial was only resumed in March 2021 – the same trial that now received a favorable decision from the Court.

"Free Earth Camp" faces challenge of halting Covid-19 spread among indigenous peoples

The meeting is on it’s 17th edition

Credit: Apib

5 Apr 21

“Free Earth Camp” faces challenge of halting Covid-19 spread among indigenous peoples

Considered to be the largest indigenous event in the country, the Acampamento Terra Livre (ATL) (Free Earth Camp), organized by the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil Network (Apib), opened its 17th edition on April 5th. For the second year in online format, this year’s ATL has the theme “Our fight is still for life, it’s not just a virus”, regarding the title of the manifesto released by the association in March which faced the challenge to halt the advance of Covid-19 among the indigenous population.

The meeting takes place from April 5 to 30 and is part of “Indigenous April”, a period historically dedicated to the indigenous cause. The complete program is available on the organization’s website and will be broadcasted by Apib’s Facebook profile and by Mídia Índia and Mídia Ninja.


Covid-19 death toll among indigenous peoples reaches 1,000

Organizations are denouncing underreporting by public institutions

Credit: Alex Pazuello | Manaus City Hall

19 Mar 21

Covid-19 death toll among indigenous peoples reaches 1,000

Almost a year after the first case of Covid-19 among the indigenous population in Brazil was detected, more than a thousand indigenous people have died as a result of the coronavirus in the country, according to the initiative Indigenous Emergency, created by the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil Network (Apib). Besides the lack of transparency of data from the Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (SESAI), which prevents the identification of many cities where the deaths occurred, Apib points out that the agency is one of the main vectors of the advance of the disease in indigenous territories, through the professionals who attend the regions.

Since the beginning of the health crisis, the entity has denounced the absence of a concrete plan of protection against Covid-19 for the indigenous population, as a facet of the “politics of hate” of Bolsonaro’s administration. In July last year, Apib achieved, via the Supreme Court (STF), the mandatory adoption of protection measures for indigenous peoples by the federal government, but the decision continues to be ignored.

“The Federal Government is the main agent that transmits the virus among indigenous peoples. The omission in the construction of effective actions to confront the pandemic, the negligence in the protection of workers and users of the Indigenous Health Subsystem and the construction of policies that favor the invasion of indigenous territories are the main factors in this context of violations,” says the website of the initiative that, in December 2020, launched the report “Our fight is for life”, which deta

Supreme Court suspends Funai resolution that restricted indigenous self-declaration

Civil society organizations said Funai decision was unconstitutional

Credit: Guilherme Cavalli/Cimi

17 Mar 21

Supreme Court suspends Funai resolution that restricted indigenous self-declaration

The Federal Supreme Court, through Justice Roberto Barroso, suspended a FUNAI, the federal agency in charge of indigenous matters, resolution published in January that established new criteria for assessing the self-declaration of identity of indigenous peoples for implementing public policies.

The measure was pointed out by several civil society organizations as unconstitutional and, in the context of the pandemic, as a threat to indigenous health, with direct consequences for the population’s immunization policy. “Defining who is and who is not indigenous is not the role of FUNAI and attacks the self-determination of the peoples,” said the Brazilian Indigenous Peoples (Apib) in a statement against the resolution.

The minister’s decision came in the context of the Argument of Noncompliance with Fundamental Precept (ADPF) 709, authored by the Apib and six political parties, which requires the federal government to draw up and implement a plan to protect the indigenous population against Covid-19. In trial since August 2020, Barroso, rapporteur of the case, partially homologated the fourth version of the General Plan for Confronting Covid-19 for Indigenous Peoples, including indigenous people living on unapproved lands and in urban contexts as priorities for vaccination under the same conditions as “indigenous villagers” – the only indigenous group initially contemplated by the federal government among the priority groups for vaccination.

Federal Police carries out an operation against illegal diamond mining in indigenous lands

The criminals sold the diamonds abroad

Credit: Polícia Federal/via Agência Brasil

16 Mar 21

Federal Police carries out an operation against illegal diamond mining in indigenous lands

On March 16, the Federal Police carried out the Operation Investor to dismantle a criminal network specialized in illegal diamond mining in the Sete de Setembro and Roosevelt Indigenous Lands, where the Suruís and the Cinta-Larga indigenous peoples live, respectively, in the municipalities of Cacoal and Espigão, in the state of Rondônia. The agents conducted Seven search and seizure warrants in the cities of Espigão do Oeste (RO), Cerejeiras (RO), Clementina (SP), Montenegro (RS), and Domingos Martins (ES).

“During the course of the investigations, the police identified the investors of the mining operation, in addition to intermediaries, miners and indigenous people involved,” the Federal Police told G1. After the illegal extraction in Rondônia, the diamonds were sold abroad.

The Roosevelt Indigenous Land, ratified in 1991, has for decades been the target of dispute between indigenous people and environmental criminals because of its privileged location for mining activities. The region is home to one of the largest diamond mines in the world, with the capacity to produce at least one million carats of precious stones per year. The advance of illegal mining has brought conflicts of various kinds to the Cinta-Larga people – including the stigma that they are a “rich” people who do not need assistance from the state – as well as great environmental impact. The legalization of the activity, with indigenous participation, divides opinions among local leaders.

Justice Fachin issues vote against eviction of quilombola communities during the pandemic

Brazil doesn’t have so far a specific plan for the protection of Afro-brazilian traditional communities

Credit: Walisson Braga/via CPT

18 Feb 21

Justice Fachin issues vote against eviction of quilombola communities during the pandemic

In a suit by the National Coordination of Articulation of Rural Black Quilombola [Afro-Brazilian traditional communities] (Conaq) in the Federal Supreme Court (STF), Justice Edson Fachin diverged from the rapporteur of the case, Justice Marco Aurélio, and voted for the suspension of eviction actions against traditional communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Filed in September 2020, jointly with the PSB, PSOL, PCdoB, REDE and PT parties, the Argument of Noncompliance with a Fundamental Precept (ADPF) 742/2020 requires the Union to create and implement a national plan to combat the Covid-19 pandemic in quilombola communities. The requested deadline was 30 days, however nothing has been done until now. “After almost a year of the pandemic (…), the State still has not prepared unified measures to prevent families, especially from vulnerable groups such as quilombolas, from being expelled from their territories during the serious epidemiological crisis that the country is going through,” says a note from the Pastoral Land Commission on Fachin’s decision.

Leader of the Tembé Thenehara indigenous people is murdered by police agents

The Tembé Theneteraha had already request protection against death threats

Credit: Reproduction/via Cimi

15 Feb 21

Leader of the Tembé Thenehara indigenous people is murdered by police agents

Isak Tembé, 24 years old, was murdered in the Alto Rio Guama Indigenous Land in Capitão Poço, northeast Pará state. According to the Indigenous Missionary Council (Cimi), Tembé was killed in an “unjustified attack by military police officers”.

The organization points out that the Tembé Theneteraha are constant targets of persecution and threats by environmental criminals. In 2019, Federal Public Prosecution requested the Federal Police and the Army command in Belém (PA) an urgent operation to prevent attacks by loggers against the indigenous people.

In a note, the Tembé Theneteraha people describe the police as an “armed militia for the farmers,” repudiate the version that the young man would have attacked the agents, who would then have reacted, and requested an investigation at the scene. “We have been fighting against this violence for decades, and we will not stop until they stop illegally occupying our land. We are not afraid. The Federal Constitution protects our rights and the Brazilian State needs to enforce what the higher law mandates. We appeal to the authorities of Brazil and the world: don’t leave us alone!”.

Indigenous organizations protest against bill that authorizes gold digging in Roraima, exempt previous analysis

Indigenous leaders deliver letter of denouncement to public prosecution

Credit: Obind/Reproduction

21 Jan 21

Indigenous organizations protest against bill that authorizes gold digging in Roraima, exempt previous analysis

Indigenous organizations have presented a formal complaint against the Bill of Law 201/2020, authored by Roraima state government, which allows gold digging permits with previous analysis. The denouncement was presented to Federal and State Prosecution. 

A special commission of the State Congress voted unanimously in favor of the bill by Roraima State Governor Antonio Denarium that liberates the mining activity in Roraima “without prior analysis,” points out an article by the G1. The bill, called PL 201/2020 does not detail which ores and territories it affects. It also allows, through an amendment by congressional representative Éder Lourinho, the use of mercury in the activities, responsible for serious social and environmental damage.

While Denarium speaks of “allying mining with sustainability,” the Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR), as well as other organizations, are contrary to the proposal and calls for its withdrawal from vote. In a statement, the CIR recalled the indigenous struggle against the invasion of their lands in the state, like in the Raposa do Sol and Yanomami Indigenous Lands, and said the project is an “attack on the environment“. “To approve PL 201 is to legalize the destruction of forests, pollution of rivers, lakes, streams and our rich land, which is home to thousands of animals, birds, fish and all kinds of living beings”.

As promised, Bolsonaro administration halts indigenous land demarcation

Indigenous Land Ituna-Itatá, one of the most affected by deforestation, is still waiting for governmental approval

Credit: Fábio Nascimento/Greenpeace

3 Jan 21

As promised, Bolsonaro administration halts indigenous land demarcation

“As long as I am president, there will be no demarcation of indigenous lands”. One year and six months after Jair Bolsonaro’s speech, the promise has been kept. In addition, the government has slowed down 70% of the demarcation processes already requested, points out the newspaper O Globo’s survey based on data from the Socio-environmental Institute (ISA).

The survey, carried out in registry offices and through consultations of decrees, ministerial ordinances and publications of the National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI), shows that 70% of the processes – referring to 237 territories – are frozen between FUNAI and the Ministry of Justice, the organs responsible for “identification, study and declarations of the lands”, before receiving the presidential sanction.

Ordinance outsources to municipalities the competence to settle land disputes and may facilitate land grabbing

Environmentalists and House Representatives say that the proposition stimulates land grabbing

Credit: Christian Braga /Greenpeace

8 Dec 20

Ordinance outsources to municipalities the competence to settle land disputes and may facilitate land grabbing

In an ordinance published in the Federal Official Gazette (DOU) on December 3, the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (Incra) presented the program “Titula Brasil [Acquiring Deeds Brazil]”, which outsources the process of land regularization of Union or Incra lands through a partnership with municipalities throughout Brazil, “with main emphasis on the nine states of the Legal Amazon”, according to a official statement from the government.

In 60 days the government will announce more details of the measure. So far, what is known is that it will be up to the municipality to nominate technicians who will carry out the survey, either municipal officials or external employees. Those chosen will receive an online training given by Incra and, once qualified, will act as outsourced employees of the Institute.

Servants, environmentalists, and congressional representatives – who have asked for the courts to annul the ordinance – have pointed out that the program facilitates land grabbing and threatens indigenous territories and quilombolas [Afro-brazilian traditional communities]. This would be another step by the government toward regulating illegally occupied lands, they warn, recalling the provisional measure known as “MP da Grilagem” [Land Grabbing Provisional Measure] published by Bolsonaro at the end of 2019, and later transformed into Bill 2.633/2020, still under analysis in the House of Representatives.

To the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo, the director of the National Confederation of Incra Servants’ Associations (Cnasi) classified the proposal as “disastrous”. “With this decision, all of Brazil’s land grabbing will be regularized in a short time. This will prevent new land reform settlement projects, new regularization of quilombola territories, new indigenous areas and new areas of environmental preservation. It is an inconsequential and disastrous decision for democratization of access to land and for the environment,” he said.

Another critical point of “Titula Brasil” is the possibility of remote inspection by geo-referencing. According to the G1 portal, an audit by the Comptroller General’s Office (CGU) pointed out that Incra did not carry out any face-to-face inspections in 2019, “essential to ensure that the regularized land is not the target of land theft or is in dispute among families”, say experts.

Human Rights ministry pressures indigenous to concede part of their territory to land grabbers in the Amazon

Indigenous state that they were held for three days in a farm

Credit: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

30 Nov 20

Human Rights ministry pressures indigenous to concede part of their territory to land grabbers in the Amazon

A group of Parakanã indigenous is accusing the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights (MMFDH), led by Damares Alves, of arbitrating and participating in a meeting with farmers in order to pressure chiefs to accept a proposal that includes the reduction of the Apyterewa Indigenous Territory, located between the municipalities of São Félix do Xingu and Altamira, Pará State, in the Amazon. In a letter of denouncement and protest, to which the newspaper O Globo had access, leaders reported that the meeting came as a surprise. They were told that they would discuss the invasion of land grabbers on indigenous lands. The meeting, with representatives of the ministry of Damares and farmers, was held on an irregular rural property located inside the indigenous land. In a statement to the Federal Public Prosecution (MPF), an indigenous person that attended the meeting reported that the indigenous people were detained for three days inside the property, without outside contact, being threatened by the landowners to agree to their requests to redefine the demarcation of the territory.

The letter points out the active participation of the federal government as a threatening agent and also says that the proposition to reduce the territory is unconstitutional. “[It was] Another trick of the Federal Government, allied with the invaders and the City Hall of São Félix, to cause internal division and confuse the leaders of the Parakanã people, with the eternal promise that the reduction of territory will resolve conflicts and bring peace to the Parakanã people,” says the text.

In a note sent to the newspaper, the MMFDH denies that they tried to force a treaty that would alter the Apyterewa Indigenous Territory”.

Mining advances over indigenous lands in Bolsonaro government

Illegal gold digging camp at Kayapó Indigenous Land, Pará State

Credit: Felipe Werneck/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

13 Nov 20

Mining advances over indigenous lands in Bolsonaro government

A survey by the project Amazônia Minada [Mined Amazon], from InfoAmazônia, shows that, although unconstitutional, the National Mining Agency (ANM) maintains active more than 3 thousand requests to mine in Indigenous Lands (TIs) in the Amazon region. Infoamazânia also created a map that shows in real time the new requests that are applied to the agency, superposed to 385 indigenous lands and 49 conservation units of integral protection of the Brazilian Legal Amazon. The practice is one of the main causes of the environmental devastation that hits the TIs located in the region. Besides, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, gold digging is a serious vector of contamination among the indigenous population.

Although this is a historical problem, the rise of mining on indigenous lands is directly associated with the environmental policy of Jair Bolsonaro and the encouragement given by the president to illegal exploitation of protected areas, states the report. Since he took office, the average number of requests for exploration in TIs has reached 117.3 every 12 months, more than double that registered in the previous two years, of 50 requests. This year, in just ten months, the highest volume of requests in the last 24 years was registered, with 145 requests. Among the regions most affected is TI Kayapó, in Pará State, which concentrates more than a third of requests.

The year 2020 was marked by the government’s legal mobilization to stimulate mining on protected lands. In February, Bolsonaro sent to Congress bill 191/2020, which authorizes mineral and energy exploration in these territories. Although it is still in process, in September another initiative was announced, the Mining and Development Program, which mentions as its goal “to promote the regulation of mining on indigenous land”.

Normative that attacks processes of demarcation of indigenous lands is invalidated by court decision

A Santarém (PA) court accepted MPF’s request

Credit: Rogério Assis/Greenpeace

30 Oct 20

Normative that attacks processes of demarcation of indigenous lands is invalidated by court decision

In the last week of October, indigenous movements took an important step against the systematic violation of territories. In a sentence signed on the 27th, the Federal Court in Santarém (PA) invalidated the normative instruction nº 9/2020, published by the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), in April, which removes from the country’s land registers the indigenous lands still in the demarcation process. According to the sentence, the instruction violates article 231 of the Constitution, which protects the indigenous right to land as a precedent, and demonstrates “a clear option for the defense of the interests of individuals to the detriment of indigenous interests and, therefore, the public heritage itself, in an apparent inversion of values and swindling the institutional mission,” as reported the portal of the Federal Public Ministry (MPF). The text also reinforced that the existence of indigenous territories not yet definitively regularized is a pending issue caused by the slowness of the federal government.

With the decision, FUNAI and the Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA) have a period of 15 days to re-introduce into the Land Management System (Sigef) and the Rural Environmental Cadastre System (Sicar) all the indigenous lands not yet ratified in the regions of the lower Tapajós and lower Amazon.

In all, the MPF filed 24 lawsuits against normative instruction 9/2020, filed in 13 states – Pará, Roraima, Amazonas, Acre, Rondônia, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Ceará, Bahia, São Paulo, Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul – requesting its provisional suspension and annulment after the definitive judgment of the cases.

The measure had already been criticized by several indigenous organizations, political parties – which have even requested its annulment by the STF – and environmental officials. For the Indigenist Associated Group (INA), an association of FUNAI servants, the 9/2020 normative instruction “transforms FUNAI into an instance of certification of properties for squatters, land grabbers, and plotters of Indigenous Lands,” according to a technical note published in April.

Covid-19: Amado Menezes Filho, leader of the Sateré-Mawé people, dies at age 65

Amado fought for Covid-19 protection for the indigenous peoples

Crédito: Danilo Mello/Foto Amazonas/Amazônia Real

16 Oct 20

Covid-19: Amado Menezes Filho, leader of the Sateré-Mawé people, dies at age 65

The Tuxaua Geral (general-chief) of the village Sateré-Mawé, Amado Menezes Filho, died due to Covid-19 complications, at age 65, at the Jofre Cohen Hospital, in Paratins, Amazonas State. He was admitted at the hospital on September 23. 

During the pandemic, Menezes Filho fought actively to stop Covid-19 spread among indigenous populations. He demanded the maintenance of a sanitary barrier installed at Maraú River, which leads to the Indigenous Land Andirá Marau, home to the Sateré-Mawé. The Parintins Special Indigenous Sanitary District (DESEI) removed the barrier on May 31. On June 2nd, the Tuxaua Geral and many other leaders from Sateré-Mawé General Council, filed a note to repudiate the decision and denounce the removal of the barrier.

The absence of the barrier led to a rise of coronavirus cases among the indigenous. It rose from 30 and one death to 164 and 5 deaths, according to the Observatory of Indigenous Rights and Policies (OBIND).

Entities, newspapers and social movements recognized Amado Menezes Filho as an historical leader in the struggle for indigenous peoples rights, for land demarcation, health and education.

Covid-19: over 26 thousand cases confirmed among indigenous population, says organization

Covid-19 has reached 132 indigenous ethnicities

Credit: Christian Braga/Greenpeace

9 Oct 20

Covid-19: over 26 thousand cases confirmed among indigenous population, says organization

The Coordination of Indigenous Organizations in the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB) has been regularly reviewing the number of suspected, confirmed cases and registered deaths from Covid-19 in the states of the Amazon, such as Acre, Amazonas, Amapá, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima and Tocantins. As of October 8th, there are 26,037 infected by the virus, 671 suspects, and 673 deaths, affecting 132 indigenous peoples. The survey gathers official data from the Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (Sesai) and information from leaders and professionals working in indigenous health, besides the network of COIAB organizations. The State of Amazonas concentrates the largest number of deaths – 205, among 26 indigenous ethnicities.

Kayapó people present  manifesto against gold mining in their indigenous territories

Illegal gold mining in Kayapó lands, Pará State

Crédito: Divulgação/ISA

8 Oct 20

Kayapó people present manifesto against gold mining in their indigenous territories

Leaders from 56 Kayapó-Mẽbêngôkre indigenous communities, representing over 6,200 people, released a manifesto against Bill of Law (PL) 191/2020, proposed by the federal government. The PL regulates mining on indigenous lands, as well as the construction of hydroelectric plants. In the manifesto, the Kayapó say that mining would threaten the environmental preservation in their communities and the traditional way of life. “We repudiate the way the federal government has been encouraging the invasion of our territories, either by the rhetoric that strengthens organized crime, or by the omission and weakening of the institutios responsible for protecting indigenous territories and by combating illegal and predatory activities”, says the manifesto. 

The NGO World Resources Institute (WRI) denounced the problem on a global scale with the publication of the report “Undermining Rights: Indigenous Lands and Mining in the Amazon”, on the impact of gold mining on indigenous populations in Amazonian countries, including Brazil. The document — which provides an estimate of the total extent of large-scale mining concessions and illegal operations in indigenous territories within the rainforest — also points to favoring, by national laws, of companies over indigenous communities, according to an evaluation study of six Amazonian countries – Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana and Peru.

Farmers use armored bulldozer to attack Guarani-Kaiowá indigenous people in Dourados (MT)

Excerpt from the report shown on Fantástico

Crédito: Fantástico/Rede Globo/Reproduction

4 Oct 20

Farmers use armored bulldozer to attack Guarani-Kaiowá indigenous people in Dourados (MT)

Videos recorded in 2019 by indigenous Guarani-Kaiowá, in Dourados (MS), show an armored bulldozer advancing against a camp. The vehicle is yet another weapon of ruralists in the region to attack the 450 Guarani-Kaiowá families who occupy the territory and claim the demarcation of their lands. A report by Fantástico, from Rede Globo TV, revealed the images. The tractor-tank, nicknamed after the war-grade vehicles used by the military police to invade favelas in Rio de Janeiro, is also used to fire rubber bullets, gas canisters and live ammunition against indigenous and small farmers. An elderly Guarani-Kaiowá woman, aged 75, had both of her legs broken when the vehicle hit a tent. According to CIMI, the Indigenist Missionary Council, records of violence against indigenous people more than doubled between 2018 and 2019 while President Jair Bolsonaro has strictly followed his promise not to demarcate “an inch” of indigenous land during his term.

Covid-19: indigenous Kayapo leader Paulo Paiakan dies in Pará

Paiakan, in January 2020, during a meeting of the Mebengokre peoples

Crédito: Kamikia Kisedje/ISA

17 Jun 20

Covid-19: indigenous Kayapo leader Paulo Paiakan dies in Pará

An indigenous leadership of the Kayapó people, Bepkororoti Payakan, also known as Paulo Paiakan, died after being infected by the Covid-19 in the south region of Pará State, in the Amazon. He was a historical figure among the indigenous movements of Brazil, having played a decisive role during the redemocratization process and as an active voice in the fight for rights and land demarcation in the Brazilian Constitution of 1988.

“Paiakan managed, like few others, to articulate social and environmental struggles. That is the legacy of the Kayapó leader that we lost today”, said, in a statement, the Socioambiental Institute (ISA).

Covid-19: Medics attending indigenous people are not being properly tested

Federal government medical teams in attendance at Yanomami and Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Lands

Crédito: Defense Ministry/Federal Government

30 Apr 20

Covid-19: Medics attending indigenous people are not being properly tested

The medical staff of the Special Secretariat of Indigenous Health (Sesai), that provides health services to the indigenous populations, is not being properly tested for the new coronavirus.

The Sesai Special Sanitary Indigenous Districts received only a few rapid tests that don’t carry the necessary precision to detect the virus.

Professionals in the front-lines reported to Deutsche Welle that they feared being vessels of Covid-19 contamination at the indigenous territories. The Federal Attorney General Office (MPF) recommended that Sesai should provide PCR testing to all health workers before they enter indigenous regions. In response, Sesai alleged they do not have the capacity to provide testing kits.

Covid 19: virus reaches São Gabriel da Cachoeira (AM), Brazil's most indigenous municipality

The municipality has no ICU beds; aerial and river transportation are suspended

Crédito: Paulo Desana/Dabakuri/Amazônia Real/CC BY 2.0

26 Apr 20

Covid 19: virus reaches São Gabriel da Cachoeira (AM), Brazil’s most indigenous municipality

The municipality of São Gabriel da Cachoeira, in Amazonas State, which has 90% of its population identified as indigenous, has registered its first two Covid-19 cases. The locality is a gateway to the region known as Dog’s Head (Cabeça do Cachorro), home to 23 different indigenous ethnic groups. It’s also a route to the Yanomami Indigenous Land, between Amazonas and Roraima States.

The city doesn’t have any ICU beds – the closest hospital is in Manaus, capital of Amazonas, 850 kilometers in a straight line away from São Gabriel, according to the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo. As an aggravating factor, aerial and river transportation were suspended because of the pandemic. In the beginning of April, Amazonas had the highest Covid-19 transmission rate in the country.

Covid-19: Deaths among indigenous rises by 800%; APIB calls out “institutional racism”

APIB denounces under-reporting and lack of government aid

Crédito: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

23 Apr 20

Covid-19: Deaths among indigenous rises by 800%; APIB calls out “institutional racism”

According to the Indigenous People of Brazil Articulation (APIB), deaths among indigenous people rose by 800% in 15 days. Of the 10 registered casualties by April 23th, only four were recognized by the Special Secretariat of Indigenous Health (Sesai). APIB denounced the “under-reporting” and qualified as “institutional racism” the lack of monitoring of the situation of indigenous who live outside their traditional territories. “We don’t accept actions that make our people invisible and mask the actual risk of a new genocide”, the organization stated.

Covid-19: Indigenous people set blockades in 12 states to guarantee isolation

Blockade in Xakriabá Indigenous Land tries to stop Covid-19 spread

Foto: Povo Xakriabá/Handout/via De Olhos Nos Ruralistas

14 Apr 20

Covid-19: Indigenous people set blockades in 12 states to guarantee isolation

To contain the pandemic in indigenous territories, over 23 ethnic groups built, by their own initiative, blockades and barriers on access roads to their villages, according to an article by the website De Olho Nos Ruralistas. The blockades happened in 12 Brazilian states: Acre, Roraima, Rondônia, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Maranhão, Tocantins, Minas Gerais, Paraná, Santa Catarina e Bahia.

In the State of Minas Gerais, the Military Police violated the blockade and invaded the Indigenous Land Xakriabá with tow-trucks and cars, approaching the population without their consent. At the Buerarema municipality, Bahia State, the mayor asked for help to break the blockades and called the Tupinambá “alleged Indians”.

Covid-19: Yanomami teenager is the first deceased among Amazon indigenous peoples

Alvanei Xirixana Pereira lived in villa Rehebe, a route for gold diggers

Crédito: Handout

11 Apr 20

Covid-19: Yanomami teenager is the first deceased among Amazon indigenous peoples

The 15-year-old teenager Alvanei Xirixana Pereira, of the Yanomami group, is the first indigenous victim of the Covid-19 in Brazil. He died at the municipality of Alto Alegre, Roraima State. The Ministry of Health stated that it didn’t receive an official notification with the cause of death and that there are no registries of deaths by Covid-19 among the indigenous in the country so far.

According to the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, the Sanitary District Yanomami is at a high risk of infection because of its proximity with the non-indigenous society. The teenager lived at the Rehebe village, which is en route for gold-diggers entering indigenous lands. 

The Hutukara Yanomami Association criticized the large presence of miners in the region and accused the government of neglect while dealing with Alvanei. “He went to Roraima General Hospital with respiratory symptoms on 18th of March, but was only diagnosed on April 7th. Meanwhile, he was sick and didn’t receive proper care”, says the release.

The National Indigenous Foundation (Funai) said that it regretted the death and said that health teams are already on location to monitor new cases and isolate the group.

In the beginning of April, caiapó leaders in Turedjam, Pará State, drove away gold diggers from their village fearing the pandemic.

Covid-19: In the Amazon, Indigenous people expel invaders to contain virus spread

Illegal gold mining camp in Kayapó Indigenous Land, Pará state

Crédito: Felipe Werneck/Ibama/via CC

6 Apr 20

Covid-19: In the Amazon, Indigenous people expel invaders to contain virus spread

To contain the spread of the new coronavirus, caiapó leaders from Turedjam, Amazon Pará State, expelled 30 gold diggers from their land. “We always wanted to stop mining in our land. With the risk of contamination, we discussed and came to a consensus”, said Takatkyx Kayapós, a community leader, to Reuters.

The National Indigenous Foundation (Funai) wasn’t a part of the negotiations, but declared to the press that it is “working to keep indigenous territories safe” in allegiance with the Federal Police and the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Natural Resources (Ibama).

One year ago, the Ministry of the Environment exonerated 21 out of 27 regional inspectors. President Bolsonaro accused “a minority inside Funai” of blocking the development of the Amazon “to profit with the indigenous peoples”.

Covid-19: Gold diggers  advance into indigenous lands during pandemic

View from the Brazilian riverbank of the Oiapoque River, used as a route by gold diggers

Crédito: OBORÉ/Repórter do Futuro/Bruno Huberman/via CC

1 Apr 20

Covid-19: Gold diggers advance into indigenous lands during pandemic

The coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (Coica) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) received reports about an increased flow of illegal Brazilian miners at the Oiapoque river region, Amapa State, who were heading towards the French Guiana. Deutsche Welle Brasil (DW) talked with researchers from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and the Federal University of Ceará who stated that the Oiapoque is the primary route for smuggling of gold and other minerals illegally obtained. Claudette Labonté, president of the French Guiana Parikweneh Federation and a member of Coica said the police “let their guard down” during the pandemic. In February, the Brazilian government presented a bill that aims to legalize mining in indigenous territories.

Covid-19: An ordinance by Funai allows contact with isolated indigenous people

Funai agents during operation against Covid-19 in the Waikás region.

Foto: Igor Soares/Ministry of Defense

20 Mar 20

Covid-19: An ordinance by Funai allows contact with isolated indigenous people

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, on March 17th, the National Indigenous Foundation (Funai) issued the Ordinance nº 419, that suspends for 30 days the issuing of permits for entering indigenous territories. The Indigenous Missionary Council (Cimi), however, identified critical excerpts in the text of the ordinance that open the possibility to contact isolated indigenous people amid the pandemic.

Cimi pointed out that the 3rd and 4th articles of the ordinance have serious problems. “The 3rd article in the ordinance conceives that the ‘Regional Coordinators will be able to issue permits in exceptional cases to take forward essential activities in indigenous communities’. The 4th article suspends all activities that may cause contact with isolated indigenous communities; however, following up, the paragraph opens an exception: “If the activity is essential to the survival of the isolated population, the authorities must allow their entrance through justifiable excuse”. The Council said it was “baffled” and “disgusted” at the possibility opened by the ordinance that would allow contact with isolated communities and reaffirmed the vulnerability of these populations facing “a grave and lethal virus”.

Government's bill opens indigenous territories for commercial exploitation

Illegal gold mining camp in Jamanxim National Park (PA)

Crédito: Felipe Werneck/Ibama/CC BY-SA 2.0

5 Feb 20

Government’s bill opens indigenous territories for commercial exploitation

During a celebratory ceremony that marked 400 days of Bolsonaro’s mandate, the federal government presented bill 191/2020 that aims to open indigenous territories for commercial exploitation. The bill proposes to regulate the extraction of gas, oil, gold and other minerals, as well as infrastructure such as hydropower plants and dams to generate electricity. The bill needs to be discussed and voted by the National Congress.

In speech at UN General Assembly, Bolsonaro lies about Amazon fires

Bolsonaro teased France president during speech

Alan Santos/PR/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

25 Sep 19

In speech at UN General Assembly, Bolsonaro lies about Amazon fires

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.

Ibama’s team is shot by gold diggers during operation in Pará State

Flight over Indigenous Land Ituna/Itatá reveals gold digging camps and forest fires

Crédito: Fábio Nascimento/Greenpeace

29 Aug 19

Ibama’s team is shot by gold diggers during operation in Pará State

During a control operation near the Ituna / Itatá Indigenous Land, in Altamira, Amazon Pará State, gold diggers opened fire at a team of federal agents from the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama). Members of the Federal Police and the National Public Security Force who were part of the operation shot back, but there were no injuries reported. The perpetrators of the attack hid in the woods and were not arrested.

Hugo Loss, the Ibama official responsible for the operation, told Reuters that they apprehended and destroyed two backhoes and three motors that were used in the camp. According to Loss, there’s a significant rise in land grabbing in the region, which increases  deforestation in the Ituna / Itatá Indigenous Land, which is located in the influence area of the Belo Monte hydropower plant.

Deforestation rises at Amazon's Xingu river basin

Satellite view of Xingu river basin in June

Crédito: Planet Labs/Handout

2 Aug 19

Deforestation rises at Amazon’s Xingu river basin

Deforestation on conservation units on the Xingu River Basin, on the Amazon states of Pará and Mato Grosso, rose by 44,7% in May and June 2019 in comparison to the same period in 2018. The number confirms the high trending on Amazon deforestation and the increased pressure on one of the key ecological corridors of the  biome. The data was published on a bi-monthly bulletin organized by Xingu+ Network, that gathers 24 local indigenous and environmental organizations. The bulletins condenses data from satellite imagery and radars that detect deforestation even during the rainy season.

NGO denounces Bolsonaro’s unlawful attempts to attack indigenous people’s rights

Aerial view of the Indigenous Land Pirititi in Rondônia

Crédito: Felipe Werneck/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

31 Jul 19

NGO denounces Bolsonaro’s unlawful attempts to attack indigenous people’s rights

In a long article, ISA (Instituto Socioambiental) details  the  several attempts by the Bolsonaro Administration to transfer the demarcation of indigenous lands  from the  Minister  of Justice to  the Minister of  Agriculture. Since January 2nd, when the government issued MP 870 introducing the ministerial reform, this unconstitutional maneuver has been pushed by Bolsonaro’s cabinet. After having the FUNAI transfer proposal rejected by the Supreme Court and going through a number of congressional commissions, debates and votes between February and June, MP 870 received several amendments and was voted into Law 13844. President Bolsonaro sanctioned the Law but vetoed article 37, which specified that indigenous lands demarcation should remain under the Minister  of Justice. Bolsonaro then issued a new MP (866) altering articles from the law 13844 and reintroducing the change on indigenous demarcation from the Minister of Justice to the Minister of Agriculture, despite the fact that it had been previously rejected by both the Supreme Court and Congress. To introduce two MPs in the same legislative year on the same issue is illegal. Several political parties reacted and denounced the move to the Supreme Court; the president of the Senate also rejected the articles on MP866 that disrespected the legislative process.

Emyra Waiãpi is murdered by gold-diggers

Bolsonaro said that there is no evidence that the native Brazilian was murdered

Crédito: Handout/via G1

29 Jul 19

Emyra Waiãpi is murdered by gold-diggers

A Waiãpi Indigenous leader was killed on July 22th amid an invasion of his community lands by gold diggers, in the west of Amapa Amazon State. Emyra Waiãpi, 68 years old, was violently stabbed and assaulted at the Mariry village; his body had marks of beatings and was missing an eye. Around 1,300 waiãpis live in the demarcated land; they are the only indigenous group in the country with an official permit to do low scale gold mining in their territory. Two days after the killing, around 50 gold diggers attacked the Mariry village, in the first invasion of its kind in decades. An internal FUNAI document accessed by the press mentioned at least 15 heavily armed gunmen and stated “we can conclude the presence of invaders is real and the tension in the  region is high”. After a few days, Apina, the Waiãpi Villages Council,  published a note with more  details on the killing and the invasion of their territory. 

Reacting to the news of the Waiãpi assassination, president Bolsonaro questioned the veracity of the story and reaffirmed his support to opening indigenous reserves  and other protected areas to mining and gold digging. “They use the indigenous people as a manipulated mass, to demarcate more and more lands, to say they are mistreated. Now this case…there is no strong evidence that this indigenous was killed there. There are many possibilities, the Federal Police is there, we sent over who we could send over; I will try to solve the case and show the truth about all of this,” he said. He went on to say that international NGOs are against gold mining in these properties  because they want the indigenous to “remain locked in a zoo” and  because they challenge Brazil’s sovereignty over the Amazon.

“It’s a very rich land (the Yanomami reservation); if you  put it together with Raposa Serra do Sol (reservation),  there is an absurd amount of minerals there. I am looking for ‘first  world’  (partners) to  explore those areas adding value. That’s the reason to get close to the USA. That’s why I want someone that I trust at the Brazilian Embassy in the USA, ” he said.  At the time, Bolsonaro wanted to name his son, federal deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro, as ambassador in Washington to have “quick and immediate contact with the american president”.

Bolsonaro attacks Raoni


Crédito: Twitter

6 Jul 19

Bolsonaro attacks Raoni

In a video posted on twitter,  president Bolsonaro says that “Brazil is an example to the  world  on environmental preservation. NGOs, artistas, ‘Raonis’ will no longer influence our external policies.”

Bolsonaro says that there will be no more indigenous lands demarcations

“They want to steal the Amazon from Brazil”, he said

Crédito: Carolina Antunes/Wikimedia Commons/via CC BY 2.0

19 Jun 19

Bolsonaro says that there will be no more indigenous lands demarcations

In a meeting with journalists, president Bolsonaro declared that his administration will not demarcate any new indigenous land during his government. “It is our initiative, it is our prerogative…Who decides at the end of the line it’s  me, I am the one who signs the demarcation decree. I won’t sign off on any new indigenous reservation in Brazil”, he declared. He also criticised  the size of indigenous territories, citing as an  example that the Yanomami territory is twice as big as the city of Rio de Janeiro for “only 9,000 indigenous”. He claimed that this can not be normal and blamed it  on  “external pressure”, highlighting that all indigenous lands are demarcated on “rich lands”.   When questioned about the Amazon Synod planned by the Vatican for the second semester of the year, president Bolsonaro replied that he worries about what decisions will be made  because “they want to steal the Amazon from Brazil”.  He went further mentioning a plan called “the triple A, 136 million hectares, from the Andes – Amazon – Atlantic. A huge strip of land under international jurisdiction with the excuse of preserving the environment. What they want is to steal our Amazon and people don’t realize that. The international press says that I want to destroy the Amazon, but I want the Amazon for ourselves.”

Bolsonaro wants to “marry progress and the environment"

Environmental protection is seen as an obstacle by the government

Crédito: Reproduction via UOL

6 Jun 19

Bolsonaro wants to “marry progress and the environment”

On a Facebook livestream, President Bolsonaro reaffirmed the need to promote a “marriage between progress and the environment”. Accompanied by the Ministers of Agriculture and Economy, he blamed the demarcation of indigenous and quilombola lands as being obstacles to the economic development of Amazon states such as Roraima, Acre and Amapa. Earlier that day, at a Senate hearing to celebrate World Environment Day, the Minister of Environment was booed and whooped after he tried to deny accusations of dismantling IBAMA and ICMBio, the  main federal environmental agencies. He left the session before the end as people called him a “runaway”.

Indigenous movements unite against government policies

Movements fight against Bolsonaro’s measures that harm indigenous land demarcation

Crédito: Mobilização Nacional Indígena/Handout

24 Apr 19

Indigenous movements unite against government policies

More than 4,000 leaders from indigenous peoples and organizations, representing 305 communities, gathered in Brasilia, Brazil’s capital, between April 24th and 26th, during the XV Terra Livre Camp (ATL). The camp became a resistance landmark and a voice of indignation against president Bolsonaro and other State agents against indigenous rights. On the last day of the occupation, the indigenous people marched through Brasilia and formalized letters to the Ministry of Health, in order to maintain SESAI to care for basic indigenous health, and to the Ministers of Justice and of Agriculture, repudiating Provisional Measure 870. MP 870, introduced by Bolsonaro’s government, aims to remove the power to identify and demarcate indigenous lands and to analyse environmental license on projects that affect indigenous reserves from the Minister of Justice and put it under the Ministry of Agriculture, in a clear constitutional violation.

Bolsonaro threatens Funai

President Bolsonaro once again hinted at the existence of “industry of fines”

Crédito: Funai/Handout

17 Apr 19

Bolsonaro threatens Funai

On a video streaming live from the presidential palace, president Bolsonaro once again attacked indigenous rights, NGOs and Ibama, and threatened to cut off the entire group of directors of Funai, the National Indigenous Foundation. Five indigenous individuals participated in the video – they were introduced to the president by a secretary of the minister of Agriculture, who is linked to big rural landowners; some of them made statements about wanting to “produce in their lands”. 

Bolsonaro again declared his support to allow mining and gold digging inside Indigenous reserves, claiming that the richness under the soil attracts NGOs with vested international interests. According to the president, NGOs are engaged with Ibama agents on a “fines and infractions industry” because they want to receive part of the money. “NGOs act on their own behalf, they are not working for the indigenous people”,  he said. “Indigenous people will remain in poverty? Enslaved by NGOs, enslaved by  political parties, by deputies, by senators who are committed to you, who use you to take advantage. We want your freedom”,  he said to his indigenous guests. It is worth noting that this live streaming happened a week before thousands of indigenous communities gathered in Brasilia for Acampamento Terra Livre, one of the largest indigenous mobilizations in the world.

Bolsonaro invites Trump to explore the Amazon

Bolsonaro meets Trump in DC

Crédito: Isac Nóbrega/PR/via CC BY 2.0

8 Apr 19

Bolsonaro invites Trump to explore the Amazon

During a radio interview, President Bolsonaro said that he proposed the opening of the Amazon region for exploration in partnership with the USA in the State meeting with president Donald Trump in Washington in March. “When I met Trump, I told him that I want to open the Amazon for him, as a  partnership. The way things are now, we will lose the Amazon, an area vital to the world”. The president went on to explain what he meant by ‘losing the Amazon’, saying that the UN discusses with indigenous leaders the possibility of “creating new countries  in Brazil” and accusing a minority  inside FUNAI of blocking the development of the region to “make money on top of the indigenous. ” He once again criticized what he calls “an  industry to demarcate indigenous lands”, saying that  many lands were demarcated based on “suspicious reports”.

Organized civil society reacts

ISA criticises Bolsonaro’s ministerial reform

Crédito: Marcos Corrêa/PR/Via Wikimedia Commons

9 Jan 19

Organized civil society reacts

A civil society critical analysis of the first proposals of the government for the environment concluded that its approach to the presented ministerial reform was the most radical since 1990, and that 40 years of struggle to advocate, approve and implement Brazilian social and environmental policies and safeguards were at stake. “The Ministry of the Environment not only lost political leverage but also is now under the direct influence of economic interests from other sectors of Bolsonaro’s administration. This indicates that the environmental agenda is not a priority to this government; they are trying to destroy the Environmental Ministry without being held accountable for it”. 

Provisional Measure 870 threatens indigenous rights

Measure transfer Funai to Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights

Crédito: Marcelo Camargo/ Agência Brasil/via Foto Públicas

2 Jan 19

Provisional Measure 870 threatens indigenous rights

The first provisional measure (MP 870/19) edited by Bolsonaro’s government introduced a ministerial  reform and  marked  a clear move  to drain out the Ministry of the Environment’s political role, institutional capacity and funding.  It also set the tone for the government’s narrative on the issue in the months to come

Among the consequences of the MP are: the attempt to transfer the responsibility to identify, define limits and demarcate indigenous and quilombola lands from the Ministry of Justice to the Ministry of Agriculture; the National Foundation for Indigenous People (FUNAI) would also be transferred from the Ministry of Justice to the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights; the Brazilian Forestry Service (in charge  of registering and monitoring rural properties) would be transferred from the  Ministry of the Environment to the Ministry of Agriculture; the closure  of specific secretaries and expert areas at Ministry of  the Environment to deal with climate change and deforestation.

Bolsonaro says indigenous people are manipulated by NGOs

Attacks to NGOs and indigenous rights: a hallmark of Bolsonaro’s government

Credit: Twitter

2 Jan 19

Bolsonaro says indigenous people are manipulated by NGOs

On the very same day that his government presented a provisional measure to transfer the responsibility to demarcate indigenous lands from the Ministry of Justice to the Ministry of Agriculture, Bolsonaro tweeted: “More than 15% of the national territory is demarcated as indigenous and quilombola land. Less than 1 million people live in these isolated places in real Brazil, explored and manipulated by NGOs. Let’s together integrate these citizens and value all Brazilians”.

Bolsonaro retreats

Bolsonaro retreats from the idea of merging agriculture and environment ministries

Crédito: Pedro França/Agência Senado/CC BY 2.0

1 Nov 18
The end of the Ministry of Environment?

Campaign pledge: end MMA

Crédito: José Cruz/Agência Brasil/via ISA

2 Oct 18

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