Amazon mine ‘nightmare’
– Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has unveiled a sweeping plan for the Amazon rainforest that would open indigenous lands to mining – a “dream” for the far-right leader, but a “nightmare” for environmentalists and tribal leaders.
Bolsonaro proposed a new Bill on Wednesday that would allow mining, farming and hydroelectric power projects on formerly protected land in the world’s largest rainforest, saying: “I hope this dream ... comes true.”
He further stoked controversy by naming a former Evangelical missionary to head the government department responsible for protecting isolated indigenous groups in Brazil, which is home to at least 100 uncontacted tribes, more than any other country.
Together, the measures underlined the Brazilian president’s committment to two key groups of supporters: conservative Evangelical Christians and agrobusiness. But they drew outrage from other quarters.
“Bolsonaro’s dream is our nightmare, and it will be our extermination.
“The mining industry brings death, disease, and misery, and it will be the end of our children’s future,” said Sonia Guajajara, of the Brazilian Indigenous People’s Assembly.
The clash showed Bolsonaro’s determination to press ahead with his agenda for the Amazon basin region, despite international condemnation of his policies last year, when record fires raged in the rainforest and the rate of deforestation nearly doubled.
The Bill would amend Article 231 of the Brazilian constitution, which deals with mining and hydroelectric projects on protected indigenous lands.
The new law would require companies to pay indigenous communities to operate on their land.