Monday, September 11, 2017

The Killing Forest

Brazil’s President, Michel Temer, who is deeply unpopular, has sought support from powerful agricultural, ranching and mining lobbies to push economic changes through Congress and shelter him from a corruption investigation. Last month, the lower house of Congress voted to spare him from standing trial for corruption in the Supreme Court, but only after the president doled out jobs and agreed to a series of concessions, many of which affected long-standing deforestation and land-rights regulations.

The Brazilian agency on indigenous affairs, Funai budget this year for the uncontacted tribes department was just 2 million reais, or about $650,000, down from 7.5 million reais in 2014. In April, Funai closed five of the 19 bases that it uses to monitor and protect isolated tribes, and reduced staffing at others. The bases are used to prevent invasions by loggers and miners and to communicate with recently contacted tribes.

An uncontacted tribe were gathering eggs along the river in a remote part of the Amazon. Then, it appears, they had the bad luck of running into gold miners. After the gold miners went to a bar in a town near the border with Colombia, and bragged about the ten killings. They bragged about cutting up the bodies and throwing them into the river.Survival International, a global indigenous rights group, warned that given the small sizes of the uncontacted Amazon tribes, this latest episode could mean that a significant percentage of a remote ethnic group was wiped out.

Activists worry that the country’s indigenous groups — and especially the uncontacted tribes — are the most vulnerable when it comes to land disputes.
“When their land is protected, they thrive,” said Sarah Shenker, a senior campaigner with the rights group, Survival International “When their land is invaded, they can be wiped out.”

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