No mining allowed in six new Indigenous reserves in Brazil

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva, Kayapó Chief, Raoni Metuktire, and Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Marina Silva. (Image by Palácio do Planalto, Flickr.)

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ Da Silva issued a decree creating six new Indigenous reserves, most of them in the Amazon, and banning mining and restricting commercial farming and logging in such areas.

The new protected communities are Arara do Rio Amônia, located in the western state of Acre; Kariri-Xocó, in the eastern Alagoas state; Rio dos Índios, in the Rio Grande do Sul state; Tremembé da Barra do Mundaú, in the northeastern Ceará state; Uneiuxi, in the Amazonas states, and Avá-Canoeiro in the Goiás state. Overall, they occupy an area of 620,000 hectares.

“We are going to legalize the largest possible number of Indigenous lands, not only because it is their right, but because we want to reach zero deforestation by 2030,” Lula said during an event with First Nations leaders.

The President made the announcement together with Sônia Guajajara, the Minister of Indigenous Peoples. One year ago at the same stage, Da Silva promised he would create a portfolio to look after the interests of the country’s First Nations.

“What we want is that, at the end of our mandate, Brazilian Indigenous peoples are being respected and treated with all the dignity that every human being deserves,” he said.

The head of state noted that Brazil experienced setbacks when it comes to native rights during the administration of Jair Bolsonaro, which led to a humanitarian crisis that left 33 million people starving to death.

“There is a lot to be fixed. We took over a country that has been dismantled,” he said.

Although the move was welcomed by Indigenous leaders, they noted that larger areas need to be protected.

Lula promised to continue the discussions around the rights of Indigenous peoples over their traditional territories. He pointed out that those who argue that establishing reserves over 14% of the Brazilian territory is too much, need to understand that, in reality, First Nations own 100% of the land since time immemorial and that they have the knowledge required to act decisively in the preservation of biodiversity.

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