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A New Report Urges the E.U. to Take Economic Action to Curb Amazon Deforestation

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Amazon soil sits in the foreground at the Bom Futuro open air tin mine.

In the 100 days since Jair Bolsonaro became president of the world’s fourth largest democracy, Brazil has weakened indigenous rights and environmental protections, with no sign of slowing down. Now, a report co-signed by 20-plus organizations, and coinciding with the 100-day benchmark, has called on the European Union to use its trade, investment, and diplomatic leverage to ensure it is not complicit in policies that threaten indigenous rights or cause deforestation and environmental degradation in the Latin American nation.

“Today we have in Brazil a president that has publicly declared indigenous people as the enemy; it is pitting society against indigenous people,” said Sonia Guajajara, general coordinator of the Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil, Brazil’s biggest indigenous organization, during a side event at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York on April 22nd. “Nobody can live in peace if you are not considered a citizen in your own land.”

One of Bolsonaro’s first moves in January was to transfer temporary jurisdiction for indigenous lands to the Ministry of Agriculture, seen as a major conflict of interest by critics because agribusiness interests have long eyed indigenous reserves for exploitation. The jurisdiction transfer is also thought to have triggered increased reserve invasions and violence against indigenous people, according to reports. Also in in January, deforestation in the Amazon reportedly rose by 54 percent compared to the same period in 2018.

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