Lula accuses Bolsonaro of 'genocide' of Yanomami
Brazil's government declared a public health emergency on Jan. 20 for the Yanomami indigenous people, now plagued by rising death rates from malnutrition and curable diseases such as malaria, flu and diarrhoea. President Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva flew to the remote Yanomami territory in Roraima state after horrifying photographs emerged of emaciated Yanomami children and adults. The trip coincided with an an emergency airlift of 16 starving Yanomami to receive urgent treatment. After his visit, Lula tweeted: "More than a humanitarian crisis, what I saw in Roraima was genocide: a premeditated crime against the Yanomami, committed by a government insensitive to suffering."
'Law of Genocide' introduced in Peru
In the midst of the political crisis gripping Peru, reactionary elements in the country's Congress have launched an initiative to repeal the 2006 law establishing reserves to protect isolated indigenous peoples in the Amazon rainforest. AIDESEP, Peru's trans-Amazonian indigenous alliance, is calling Law Project 3518/2022-CR the "Law of PIACI Genocide"—a reference to the Spanish acronym for Indigenous Peoples in Isolation or Initial Contact. The AIDESEP statement also charges that the congressional Commission on Decentralization & Regionalization submitted the bill on Dec. 14 without first seeking clearance from the Commission on Andean & Amazonian Peoples, which holds first authority in the matter.
Bolivia: soy boom fuels Santa Cruz unrest
Bolivia's eastern lowland city of Santa Cruz has been rocked by roadblocks and street clashes since an indefinite paro (civil strike) was called by right-wing opposition groups Oct. 22. With the open support Santa Cruz departmental governor Fernando Camacho, strikers are demanding that a new census be held next year rather than in 2024, as is currently scheduled. The last census was in 2012, and the region's population has swelled with an influx of migrants since then. At issue is greater funding for the department, and more slated congressional seats ahead of the 2025 elections.
Tough congress for Brazil's new indigenous caucus
In Brazil's Oct. 2 general elections, five self-identified indigenous candidates won seats as federal deputies and two as senators—the highest number in the country's history. The most celebrated victory was that of Sônia Guajajara, a leader of her own Guajajara people in Maranhão state who has emerged as a voice for indigenous peoples on the national stage, and now takes a seat as deputy. But this new "Bancada do Cocar" (Feathered Headdress Caucus) will face tough odds in a generally more conservative National Congress. More seats were won by supporters of the reactionary outgoing president Jair Bolsonaro, and especially the Bancada Rural (Rural Caucus, dominated by the agribusiness lobby), in both the lower and upper houses. (Mongabay)
Indigenous peoples issue urgent call for Amazon
More than 500 indigenous leaders from across the Amazon, meeting in Lima Sept. 7, issued an urgent call for the world to act against the destruction of the planet's largest rainforest. The statement, "Amazonia Against the Clock," was approved by the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), at a summit of representatives from nine countries. (EFE) The statement invokes the Emergency Motion 129 issued in September 2021 in Marseille by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), calling for "permanent protection" of the remaining 80% of intact rainforest by 2025. (InfoRegion)
Indigenous leader slain in Venezuelan Amazon
A Venezuelan indigenous leader who fought against incursions by Colombian armed groups and outlaw gold miners into the country's southern rainforest was shot dead on June 30 in the Escondido 3 sector of Puerto Ayacucho municipality, capital of Amazonas state. Virgilio Trujillo Arana, a member of the Uwottujja indigenous people, was the leading force in the creation of the Sipapo Territorial Guards in Autana municipality, Amazonas. The Territorial Guard patrols were launched with support from the Amazonas Indigenous Peoples' Regional Organization (ORPIA).
Ecuador: indigenous rainforest defenders honored
Two indigenous leaders in Ecuador who successfully fought against mining on their ancestral lands were awarded the prestigious Goldman Prize for environmental activism on May 25. Alex Lucitante and Alexandra Narváez of the Cofán indigenous people organized patrols, and used drones and camera traps to document gold mining operations within their traditional territories. Their evidence was crucial in securing a legal victory that resulted in 324 square kilometers (125 square miles) of rainforest being protected from mining.
Brazil: bill to open indigenous reserves to mining
Under the slogan "Ato Pela Terra" (Stand for the Earth), thousands of protesters, including some 150 indigenous leaders from eight ethnic groups, gathered for the biggest environmentalist demonstration ever held in Brazil's capital on March 9, protesting a series of bills dubbed the "death package" by critics. The package being pushed by President Jair Bolsonaro would open indigenous reserves to a wide range of economic activities, including mineral exploitation. This measure, assailed as unconstitutional, is actually opposed by the Brazilian Mining Institute (IBRAM), which issued a statement calling it "inappropriate" and warning that it would give legal cover to informal "garimpo" mining in the Amazon rainforest. But Bolsonaro maintains the measure is mandated by the Ukraine war, which has threatened supplies of strategic minerals, including the key fertilizer ingredient potassium. Brazil, the world's top soy producer, imports 80% of its fertilizer—20% from Russia, its biggest supplier. (Mongabay, TRT World)
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