Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro sparked controversy with the introduction of a bill that could see the start mining operations in the Amazon Rainforest. In a controversial statement, Bolsonaro called it his 'dream' and said he wants to see it 'come true' while Sonia Guajajara of the Brazilian Indigenous People's Assembly said that 'his dream is our nightmare'.
Slamming the President Bolsonaro for his prejudice, Guajajara further said that far-right Brazilian government's new moves can also lead to the 'extermination' of indigenous groups in the Latin American nation.
The bill proposed by Bolsonaro on February 5 would not only allow mining but also farming and hydroelectric power projects that were previously prohibited in the protected regions of the world's largest rainforest.
The dissatisfaction further grew among the indigenous groups as the Brazillian government appointed a former evangelical missionary, Ricardo Lopes Dias, to the head the government department responsible for the protection of isolated groups in the country which is also home to 100 uncontacted indigenous tribes.
The developments reportedly mark Bolsonaro's commitment to his two key groups of supporters -- the conservative Evangelical Christians and the Agrobusiness community. However, the announcement also fueled protests by indigenous groups.
According to international reports, in interviews with the Brazilian media, Dias has ensured that he would not harm the indigenous communities and would not 'evangelize' them. He rather asserted that he would be purely technical and also defended the indigenous groups. Dias further insisted that there has been prejudice against him because of his faith. However, activists, on the other hand, say that the new coordinator-general has not allayed their concerns keeping in consideration Dias' work in the Amazon in 1997-2007 as a member of the New Tribes nonprofit group.
Brazil officially accounts for 28 groups of isolated indigenous people in the Amazon. However, the Brazilian President has said on numerous occasions that indigenous people should be integrated into the country's mainstream society as their protected lands pose a threat to the development and national sovereignty.
(With agency inputs)
Brazil tables controversial bill allowing mining in Amazon Rainforest