While indigenous tribes suffer, Bolsonaro is working with corporations to exploit the Amazon rainforest

Handech Wakana Mura from the indigenous Mura tribe
Afroze Fatima Zaidi

The Canary recently reported on the destruction in the Amazon rainforest due to ongoing and devastating forest fires. Brazil’s right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro has placed blame for the fires, which have now been raging for several weeks, on local farmers and NGOs.

Bolsonaro’s reported business links show long-term plans to exploit the rainforest for its resources. And what’s even worse is the impact on indigenous tribes, who now face what has been described as genocide.

Bolsonaro and big business

In April 2019, Amazon Watch published a report detailing Bolsonaro’s business links with European and North American corporations. On its website, Amazon Watch says:

Start your day with The Canary News Digest

Fresh and fearless; get excellent independent journalism from The Canary, delivered straight to your inbox every morning.




A dominant, conservative faction of the country’s powerful agroindustrial sector known as the “ruralistas” is helping drive Bolsonaro’s Amazon agenda. Working from within Bolsonaro’s government, industry representatives are stripping protections […] to gain unfettered access to areas currently safeguarded from industrial activity.

The statement goes on to say that “European and North American businesses that finance and source from Brazilian businesses” are playing a major role in the current environmental crisis.

Indigenous voices

In May this year, Amnesty International published a report emphasising the need to protect indigenous Amazonian tribes from illegal intrusion. Al Jazeera recently shared a video online of indigenous leader Alessandra Munduruku, speaking in the capital Brasilia in May of this year. In an impassioned speech defending indigenous rights, Munduruku says:

[They say] the Indian is incapable, the Indian is an animal. We are not animals, the animal is the one who lives here and is taking our rights away.

[…] I want to tell Bolsonaro […]: Respect our life, respect our territory, respect our rights, respect our ancestors. We have resisted for 519 years, and even if you cut out our root, it will be buried there.

Moreover, on 13 August indigenous women leaders marched in Brasilia to take a stand against Bolsonaro’s policies. Sonia Guajajar from the Guajajara Tribe told AJ Plus:

We have no doubts that Bolsonaro’s government has genocidal politics. He’s changing legislation, loosening restrictions, authorising mining and deforestation. It’s not just the forest that’s in danger, it’s our own lives.

The video goes on to say that “Indigenous leaders receive death threats,” with one reportedly killed by miners in July of this year.

Global impact

Open Democracy has also reported on how the Brazilian government allegedly plans to use hate speech to isolate minorities.

It’s safe to say that local campaigners have been calling attention to Bolsonaro’s destructive, genocidal policies for some time now. Moreover, the impact of the rainforest’s destruction will be global. As indigenous leader Puyr Tembé said: “the air we breathe is the air you breathe. The water we drink is the water you will drink. And if one day it dries up, you won’t have anything.”

So the devastation in the Amazon rainforest affects all of us. And it’s important that we rally behind indigenous tribes and help to hold the Brazilian president to account.

Featured image via YouTube/Guardian News

Since you're here ...

We know you don't need a lecture. You wouldn't be here if you didn't care.
Now, more than ever, we need your help to challenge the rightwing press and hold power to account. Please help us survive and thrive.

The Canary Support
  • Show Comments
    1. The only explanation I can think of as to why these money-grubbers care so little about the environment is because by the time it’s an undeniable problem they’ll be dead. They don’t care for people living now so people who come after us will mean even less. Perhaps if the human lifetime was three to four hundred years they’d care more, but then we’d still be lumbered with Amschel Rothschild, both JP Morgans and John D Rockefeller etc. And we’d still have two hundred more years of Kissinger, Albright and Murdoch.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.