When Jair Bolsonaro came to power in Brazil, one of his first acts was to transfer control of Indigenous land, from The National Indian Foundation (FUNI) to the heavily agribusiness-lobbied Department of Agriculture (MAPA).
This led almost immediately to a rapid increase in deforestation, the spread of deliberately set wildfires, and an increase in attacks on Indigenous forest Guardians by illegal logging gangs and cattle ranchers.
One of those murdered was Paulo Paulino Guajajara, and his memory is being honoured by other members of the Guajajara tribe who are part of a delegation from the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) visiting Europe this month.
On 14th November they were in the UK, protesting outside the Brazilian Embassy in London. They presented an award to Embassy staff, naming Jair Bolsonaro “Racist Of The Year 2019”.
Their mission in Europe is to highlight the violations against Indigenous peoples and promote compliance with the Paris Agreement and the Indigenous Rights Convention 169 (Brazil is a signatory to both).
They also want European consumers to become aware of their ethical choices. Buying Brazilian beef for instance encourages deforestation, and Bolsonaro’s relaxation of regulation has allowed a swathe of dangerous pesticides to be used that are banned in Western countries. European financial institutions are also a target for their campaign, with corporations like BlackRock under fire for backing projects with terrible environmental costs. They are also promoting the campaign for an ecocide law which could be used internationally to hold corporations to account.
Speakers outside the embassy included the lawyer Dinaman Tuxá, co-ordinator for APIB, who has a Masters in Sustainable Development, and Sonia Gujajara, who was Brazil’s first Indigenous vice-presidential candidate, and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative.
While in London the delegation is holding a candlelit vigil, delivering a letter to Downing Street, and taking part in a protest at BlackRock’s HQ in the City of London (which Real Media is covering).