By Karina Gomes—Jan. 1 2019
DW: Jair Bolsonaro has issued an executive order making the Agriculture Ministry responsible for deciding what to do with lands claimed by indigenous peoples, stripping power from the indigenous affairs agency, FUNAI. How do you see these developments?
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz: This is a regressive move, because the Agriculture Ministry is the agency which supports the expansion of the areas for the production of crops for export and for cattle ranching. Putting FUNAI under a body which has the function of facilitating the expansion of agriculture, including to the indigenous peoples’ lands and territories, will potentially undermine FUNAI’s mandate which is to protect the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands and territories.
What can possibly happen is that FUNAI’s mandate will be changed or its resources and powers will be reduced significantly which will make it very weak in terms of performing its role of protecting the rights of indigenous peoples.
What is the impact of such a measure on the future of the Amazon rainforest?
Since the Amazon rainforest will be among the potential areas for agricultural expansion, this will mean increased deforestation and increased displacements and violations of the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon. It will also mean that the capacity of the rainforest for climate change mitigation will decrease.
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