President Lula in the bed of indigenous peoples – Brazil – Brazil – Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is taking a firm stand on the Yanomami, indigenous peoples starving as a result of the destruction of rainforests and Bolsonaro’s policies of “colonial evangelization” after the justice minister opened a “genocide” investigation.
On Monday, January 30, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva decreed a series of measures to combat illegal mining in the Yanomami indigenous territory of the Brazilian Amazon. After photos of this nation’s emaciated and malaria-stricken children and elderly people, the expected backlash went around the world and exposed the problems of former leader Jair Bolsonaro’s domestic politics.
According to the Ministry of Health, 99 children under the age of 5 would actually die in this isolated area during 2022. We are talking about acute nutritional problems, as well as the problem of mercury pollution of rivers used for gold mining. . On January 23, Justice Minister Flavio Dino announced the opening of a police investigation into “possible genocide”: “We believe there are very strong indications of the denial of food and health aid to this local population.” compiled.
Expectations of local movements are high. Not only do they hope Lula will end the Yanomami crisis, whose land has been criminally encroached and degraded by at least 20,000 illegal gold prospectors, but he is actually changing the relationship between the Brazilian state and indigenous peoples. On the one hand, by restoring the policy of restoration of their territories of origin, and on the other hand, by promoting their ethnic-cultural diversity.
Monocultures and the religious excuse
“For the last four years, we’ve had Bolsonaro’s deeply anti-indigenous policies,” explains Alberto Terena, a Protestant pastor and member of the Terena indigenous people from the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, which borders Paraguay. “He developed agribusiness on indigenous lands, put soldiers at the head of the National Indian Trust (Funai, a public body responsible for protecting the rights of indigenous people, editor’s note) and encouraged the destruction of our territories.”
Alberto Terena recalls that indigenous peoples all over Brazil were constantly encouraged to open up their territories to the introduction of monocultures: “The interesting thing is that often we don’t even have enough land to live on,” he still wonders. And to accuse: “The worst thing is that religion was used to achieve this goal!”
“Heavily supported by evangelical leaders, Bolsonaro not only favored his allies through appointments to government posts, but also in local politics,” explains lawyer Marcos Kaingang, a member of the Kaingang people in southern Brazil. With the slogan ‘God first’, he evangelized marginalized indigenous peoples through Funai himself, allowing the illegal actions of pastors and churches.”
If the frequent problematization of Christian churches in local communities did not begin with Bolsonaro, as experts explain, it intensified under his government. “Christian fundamentalism has existed in Brazil for several decades and has been strengthened by Bolsonaro’s project of religious manipulation. It becomes a colonial perspective of evangelization”, analyzes Luís Ventura, a Catholic missionary and assistant secretary of the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI), a body of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops.
Marcos Kaingang confirms that the problem is not new. As a child, he experienced firsthand the consequences of what he described as a “colonial view” of evangelism. “We liked to play archery in the village. The Pentecostal church in our community did not like our games and said that in the eyes of the Lord we were wrong to kill small animals.
If the lawyer does not believe that adherence to the Christian religion is necessarily a problem, he criticizes the idea of imposing the model by force. “If religiosity can complement our spirituality and culture, it can be welcomed. But it is important that our ways of being are respected. We cannot accept the introduction of racist models or models that promote the subjugation of women,” he said.
New Ministry of Indigenous Peoples
Marcos Kaingang, an activist with the Council on Mission among Indigenous Peoples of the Lutheran Church (Comin), has just been appointed head of the new indigenous ministry department. The creation of this ministry by Lula, in addition to the appointment of an indigenous woman – Sonia Guajajara – as head, was seen as a sign of hope by the indigenous people and fighters of the cause. “We are facing a completely different scenario. Lula must restore the demarcation of areas that have not yet been demarcated and provide adequate health services. “He has the problem of going beyond symbolic gestures and taking concrete action,” emphasizes Luis Ventura.
For Pastor Sandro Luckmann, the chief coordinator of Comin, the main thing is that the protagonists in the process of restructuring local policies should be the local people themselves. “When the current Constitution came into force in 1988, several Christian organizations working with indigenous people fought to include their rights in the document. We are in a similar situation, we should be with them”, he analyzes. And let’s note that the participation of indigenous peoples in politics has increased significantly in the last ten years: “Their current slogan is “Never again without us”.
For his part, Junior Hekurari, leader of the Yanomami health organization, seems very pleased with the establishment of Lula’s government. For four years, he has been denouncing the government’s abandonment of its people. He had never heard his voice. Last week, the photos he published about the health of the Yanomami not only reached the press, but also prompted President Lula to visit the local area. A trip that resulted in the adoption of several emergency measures.
By a decree dated January 30, the President ordered the Air Force to control the airspace of the Yanomami territory, and its occupation is assisted by planes of miners bringing equipment and people. The National Forces will also have to ensure the safety of the health teams working there. “He is the only president who ignores us. He came here without delay. I have a lot of hope”, says Junior Hekurari. According to him, 120 out of 304 Yanomami communities are directly affected by the presence of miners. Junior Hekurari hopes that “President Lula will support the investigation of these crimes and the destruction of the invaders.”
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