Brazilian president strips indigenous affairs agency of land reservation capability
- President Jair Bolsonaro issued a decree shifting the ability to create and define the boundaries of indigenous land reservations from the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) to the Ministry of Agriculture.
- Bolsonaro previously announced intentions to loosen environmental and indigenous protections, even as farming and mining groups carry out armed attacks against indigenous communities.
- The order was the first of Bolsonaro’s presidency, issued only hours after taking office.
“Bolsonaro strips agency of right to decide native land in Brazil” (Agence-France Presse, via Yahoo! News | January 2019)
“Brazil’s new President Jair Bolsonaro rolls back Indigenous tribe protections” (The Associated Press/Reuters, via ABC News | January 2019)
“Brazil’s FUNAI Calls Army to Help Protect Isolated Indigenous Tribes” (The Rio Times | December 2018)
The Uncertain Task of Defining Race in Brazilian Affirmative Action
The redress of racial injustice in Brazil, long stymied by the country’s reputation as a “racial democracy,” has gained increasing political attention thanks to the work of black activists across the nation. Brazil’s recent attempts to install socioeconomic and racial quotas in public university admissions have created a number of challenges as fraud and race-policing have pitted student against student in ensuring fair enforcement, particularly as verification committees decide race based on appearance rather than heritage. Foreign Policy and The Globe and Mail examine the volatile debates surrounding Brazil’s new affirmative action policies and the general uneasiness the country has experienced as it has begun to address the long history of discrimination against its black, brown, and indigenous citizens.
“Brazil’s New Problem With Blackness” (Foreign Policy | April 2017)
“Black or white? In Brazil, a panel will decide for you” (The Globe and Mail | January 2017)
(Image Credit: Tiago Mazza Chiaravalloti/NurPhoto, via Foreign Policy)
Budget cuts and proposed land rights and environmental rollbacks threaten indigenous communities in Brazil
- Fundação Nacional do Índio (FUNAI), the government agency responsible for the protection of indigenous communities, faces large budget cuts under President Michel Temer’s government that advocates say could increase the insecurity of indigenous groups, particularly of the more than 100 uncontacted groups in the country.
- A draft decree seeks to increase the level of scrutiny applied in the demarcation of indigenous land reservations, annulling certain previously secured land rights and making the recognition of new claims considerably more difficult.
- A proposed bill seeks to overhaul environmental licensing protocol, shifting from federally managed licensing procedures to flexible, state-based determinations of licensing necessity for agricultural and land-use projects.
“Temer government set to overthrow Brazil’s environmental agenda” (Mongabay)
“Brazil’s plan to roll back environment laws draws fire: ‘The danger is real’” (The Guardian)
“Brazil budget cuts put uncontacted Amazon tribe at risk, say activists” (The Guardian)
(Image Credit: Ricardo Stuckert/The Guardian)
Study shows 90% of indigenous peoples in Amazonian Brazil suffering from mercury poisoning
- Illegal gold mining in northern Brazil has contaminated the water and food sources of at least 19 different Yanomami and Yekuana communities along with Nahua tribes in Peru.
- In addition to the rise of illegal mining over the last three decades, uncontacted Yanomami communities have faced environmental crises and decades-old controversies over the status of their blood used for genetic testing by American anthropologists.
- The study was a joint project of Brazilian health foundation Fiocruz, the Hutukara Yanomami Association, the Yekuana Association, and Brazilian NGO Socio-Environmental Institute.
“Mercury poisoning of Amazon Indians: alarming new statistics revealed” (Survival)
“90% of Indigenous in Brazil’s Amazon Suffer Mercury Poisoning” (teleSUR English)
“Indigenous tribe’s blood returned to Brazil after decades” (BBC)
(Image Credit: Fiona Watson/Survival)