Thousands of indigenous Brazilians are gathered in Brazil’s capital this week. They’re demanding the creation of new reserves on their ancestral lands.
They came from all around the country to Brasilia for their 19th annual gathering, under the slogan “Terra Livre” (free land). It’s the first since the return to power in January of leftist leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Lula had expressed support for expanding Indigenous reserves, unlike his far-right predecessor Jair Bolsonaro. For his part, Bolsonaro had vowed to not yield “one more centimeter.”
‘Equal rights for all Indigenous peoples’ of Brazil
Protester Joyce Paumari Hiraka told Agence France-Presse TV (AFP-TV):
We traveled a week to get here. What we want is equal rights for all Indigenous peoples throughout Brazil.
Likewise, Andre Guajajara, who came from the northeastern state of Maranhao, said:
The demarcation of our lands is very important for us, to prevent intrusions by those who come to destroy the forest.
Experts consider indigenous reserves to be a bulwark against Amazon deforestation. This is caused mainly by mining and agricultural expansion.
Yakari Kuikuro Mehinaku, who lives on a reserve in the Alto Xingu region of Brazil’s central Mato Grosso state, stated that:
Our territory is an island of forest with destruction all around… The government needs to take care of the environment as we the Indigenous people do.
Lula, who had previously governed from 2003 to 2010, created a Ministry of Indigenous Peoples on his return to office for a third term.
The minister in charge, Sonia Guajajara, recently announced that Brazil will register 14 new reserves. They will cover a total area of 1.5 million hectares.
Featured image via Youtube/ Guardian News
Additional reporting via Agence France-Presse