In an open letter to Bolsonaro, leaders of the Aruak, Baniwa and Apurinã peoples, who live in the watersheds of the Negro and Purus rivers in Brazil’s northwestern Amazon jungle region, protested against the decree that now puts indigenous lands under the Ministry of Agriculture, which manages interests that run counter to those of native peoples. Bolsonaro advocates “integration” of indigenous people, referring to assimilation into the mainstream “white” society
"We have already been decimated and subjected, and we have been victims of the integrationist policy of governments and the national state,” said indigenous leaders, as they rejected the new Brazilian government’s proposals and measures focusing on indigenous peoples.
There will be a review of the demarcations of Indigenous Lands carried out over the past 10 years, announced Luiz Nabhan García, the ministry’s new secretary of land affairs, who is now responsible for the issue. García is the leader of the Democratic Ruralist Union, a collective of landowners, especially cattle ranchers, involved in frequent and violent conflicts over land-grabbing.
It’s not us who have a large part of Brazil’s territory, but the big landowners, the ruralists, agribusiness and others who own more than 60 percent of the national territory,” countered the public letter from the the Aruak, Baniwa and Apurinã peoples. Indigenous Lands make up 13 percent of Brazilian territory,
“The grave situation is getting worse under the new government. They are strangling us by dividing Funai and handing the demarcation process to the Ministry of Agriculture, led by ruralists – the number one enemies of indigenous people,” said Inaye Gomes Lopes, a young indigenous teacher who lives in the village of Ñanderu Marangatu in Mato Grosso do Sul, near the Paraguayan border.
The Ministry of Health also announced changes in the policy toward the indigenous population, without presenting proposals, threatening to worsen an already bad situation.
The ruralists want to get their hands on indigenous lands, and the leaders of evangelical churches, with their aggressive preaching, who represent the most violent threats, she said.
The new government spells trouble for other sectors as well, such as the quilombolas (Afro-descendant communities), landless rural workers and NGOs.