Ama­zon mine ‘nightmare’

The Citizen (KZN) - - World - Rio de Janeiro

– 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.


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