Brazil’s Amazonian reserve has always been a cause for contention between indigenous activists and the Brazillian government. Covering the majority of northwestern Brazil and extending into Columbia, Peru and a whole host of South American nations, the Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest famed for its biodiversity and natural beauty.
Unfortunately, over the year’s deforestation, land grabbing and illegal timber logging have plagued the Amazon. Prior to this, the world has turned a blind eye towards the situation in Brazil with the exception of various groups of activists
However, in 2019 all of that would change when the Brazillian Amazon forest fires caught the attention of the international media. Countries from all over the world offered aid and condemned the government of Jair Bolsonaro for their lackluster approach towards the Amazon forest fires.
The recent murder of an indigenous 15-year old boy has sparked new concerns with regards to discrimination and racism in Brazil. Erisvan Guajajara was found dead with multiple stab wounds on Friday in the Brazillian Amazon. While officials have claimed that the young boy was killed in a fight, tribal activists remain unconvinced over the results of the investigation.
According to Sonia Guajajara; the executive coordinator of Brazilian indigenous association ABIP the murder of the young boy and others are signs of increased racism and violence targeting Brazil’s indigenous people.
Jair Bolsonaro and Greta Thunberg’s online feud
Love her or hate her, there is no doubt that Greta Thunberg knows how to get people’s attention. Having lamented about the fate of Brazil’s indigenous population on social media, Thunberg drew the ire of President Bolsonaro with her remarks.
In her Tweet, Thunberg stated that; “Indigenous people are literally being murdered for trying to protect the forest [sic] from illegal deforestation. Over and over again.”
In response, Bolsonaro; long accused of essentially encouraging wide-spread environmental destruction scorned how the media gave Thunberg so much attention whilst calling her a pirralha, a derogatory Portuguese term for pest or brat.
Thunberg - renowned for calling out world leaders for their inaction on climate change and the destruction of the environment took Bolsonaro’s remarks in her stride by simply changing her Twitter bio to simply pirralha.
The controversy caused by the murder of several members of Brazil’s indigenous tribes has not gone unnoticed. Brazil’s Indigenous Missionary Council rights group have stated that increasing racism and the invasion of indigenous lands were caused by Bolsonaro’s “aggressive” stand on the development of the Amazon.
Rising violence in the Amazon
For years now, the Amazon and its people have been plagued by the scourge of poachers, miners and timber loggers eager to extract the riches of the land. As a result, this resource rich region of Brazil is likely to become a new wild west in the years to come with little to no support from the government.
A report by National Geographic highlighted the perilous situation faced by the Forest Guardians - a 120 strong volunteer force dedicated to protecting the Amazon who have been ambushed and even killed on several occasions.
In response, the Guajajara people have banded together with other nomadic tribes, namely the Awá in a desperate attempt to protect their lands from encroachment. Unfortunately, the government has done little to help them and, in some cases, support has been removed outright. Some have even accused Bolsonaro of facilitating the genocide of Brazil’s uncontacted tribes under his regime.
Pledges made by President Bolsonaro has been seen by spectators as a literal declaration of open season on the lands of the Amazon. In fact, the removal of Bruno da Cunha Araújo Pereira as the head of the Department of Isolated and Recently Contacted Indians has caused consternation amongst many.
Unfortunately, it is more difficult to predict the future of the Amazon forest than to guess the winner of the Kentucky Derby horse race. However, it is unlikely that with the current chief of state Brazil will be deteriorating the situation as he seems to have no regard for the biggest natural rainforest in the planet.