Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday stated he was pushing a bill through Congress to allow commercial mining and agriculture on protected indigenous lands, as he met with tribal chiefs to declare a credit line to help indigenous farmers who have grown soy plantations on their reservations.
The far-right chief, who has witnessed criticism for his government’s failure to protect the Amazon rainforest, stated the credit line would enable indigenous tribes to purchase seed, fertilizer, and machinery. However, large-scale agriculture has previously been illegal on their lands.
Speaking with Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina beside him, Bolsonaro stated the credit line would assist in lifting Brazil’s indigenous individuals out of debt and adapt them into Brazilian society.
The main groups representing Brazil’s 900,000 indigenous individuals say a majority are against mining and commercial agriculture on their hereditary lands.
Bolsonaro’s comments at the presidential palace arrived as Raoni Metuktire, a Kayapo head known globally for his environmental campaigning since the Eighties, joined other indigenous communities in an appearance at Brazil’s Congress Tuesday to ask Speaker Rodrigo Maia to halt the federal government’s commercial mining and farming bill.
Speaker Maia stated after their meeting that he had put the president’s offer on the back-burner because it needs far more debate in Brazilian society than the federal government had approved.
Bolsonaro stated his bill would permit indigenous people to mine and plant crops on their lands, and rent them to white farmers if they wish to, which is presently illegal under Brazilian legislation.