SAO PAULO — After denouncing the record number of wildfires in the Amazon in August and the growing deforestation of the region, the Brazilian Catholic Church is pressuring the government to guarantee the safety of several Amazonian indigenous peoples, alerting the authorities of the imminent risk of genocide in northern Brazil.
“No indigenous people feels safe in Brazil right now. But the situation is particularly serious in the Amazonian state of Rondonia, where the peoples Uru-eu-wau-wau and Karipuna had their lands invaded, and in the state of Para, where the people Xikrin lives,” said Archbishop Roque Paloschi of Porto Velho, president of the Indigenous Missionary Council, a committee of Brazilian bishops’ conference.
On Aug. 27, the Indigenous Missionary Council released a statement condemning President Jair Bolsonaro’s verbal attacks on the indigenous peoples of the Amazon.
“Amid the environmental destruction caused by deforestation and criminal wildfires, especially in the Amazonian region, he maintains an incendiary attitude, with a repugnant aggressiveness directed to the native peoples and their right to a dignified existence,” said the Indigenous Missionary Council’s statement.
Since his campaign in 2018, Bolsonaro has criticized environmental legislation and the “excessive number” of indigenous reservations, promising to loosen restrictions on activities that affect the environment and to stop recognizing indigenous territories. On Aug.30, he again told journalists that “no new indigenous land” would be granted by the government, only the ones that he is “obliged” to demarcate.
Cleanton Curioso, a lay missionary and the Indigenous Missionary Council’s coordinator in Altamira, said Bolsonaro’s comments have created a “feeling of impunity” among indigenous land invaders.