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After the possession of Jair Bolsonaro as president of Brazil, the identification of indigenous lands will be the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture
Although Hamilton Mourao, Brazil's new vice president, declared that the Brazilian government will act responsibly over the Amazon, reality seems to contradict him. After Jair Bolsonaro took office as the new president of the Latin American giant, it was announced that the identification and delimitation of indigenous lands will be the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture.
The task, which was previously carried out by the National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI), was stripped of its functions after the signing of an executive order. Clarin reports that Bolsonaro signed a decree empowering the Ministry of Agriculture to perform these functions.
The decree also reallocates the regularization of indigenous and quilombola lands (lands of Afro-descendant communities) to an Interministerial Council, conformed by the portfolios of Environment, Human Rights, Defense, and Agriculture. However, according to El Clarín, the Ministry of Agriculture will define land issues.
The decision seems to be a victory for the agricultural industry and the commercial sector and is part of Bolsonaro's plan to establish a protectionist policy regarding trade. With this determination, the ultra-rightist president begins to fulfill his campaign promises, which terrorize environmentalists. The Amazon would be greatly affected once this type of commercial strategies are implemented, which leave the care and protection of the environment in the background.
The current president declared, during the electoral contest, that he expects citizens living in 15% of indigenous and afro-descendant territory to stop being exploited by NGOs while integrating all those lands and re-evaluating them.
Mais de 15% do território nacional é demarcado como terra indígena e quilombolas. Menos de um milhão de pessoas vivem nestes lugares isolados do Brasil de verdade, exploradas e manipuladas por ONGs. Vamos juntos integrar estes cidadãos e valorizar a todos os brasileiros.— Jair M. Bolsonaro (@jairbolsonaro) 2 de enero de 2019
On the decision, several critics and environmentalists have spoken. For example, Green Peace affirmed that the decision is "extremely worrying" because it puts at risk the communities that inhabit the Amazon and would favor deforestation.
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According to the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), since the 1970s, the Amazon region has lost 20% of its forest due to deforestation. With Bolsonaro's decisions, the figures could increase and affect even more the lung of the world.
In an interview with LatinAmerican Post, Paula Ortega, a graduate in Biology and interested in environmental conservation, said that the decisions that Bolsonaro is taking could widely harm not only Brazil but the world. "Betting on trade over what it is the source of life is only beneficial for the economy of a few", said Ortega.
Although, for the moment, the speculations are only suppositions, we will have to wait for how the strategies of Bolsonaro and his ministerial cabinet are developed. It is important to remember that industrial development cannot be above environmental well-being. The care of the planet and the commercial advance must go hand in hand.
LatinAmerican Post | Marcela Peñaloza
Translated from "La pesadilla comenzó"