With voting in the Brazilian presidential elections approaching on Sunday [28 October], Elena Couceiro, a spokesperson for InspirAction, Christian Aid’s Spanish partner which works in Brazil, said:
“Hatred is threatening to win in the Brazilian presidential elections. It’s the hatred that presidential candidate, Jair Bolsonaro, projects towards indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, women, the LGTBI community, the environment, human rights and democracy. At Christian Aid, we express our deep concern about the risk that Balsonaro’s likely victory may pose for human rights, civil society, equality, the defence and conservation of the environment and the very survival of indigenous peoples. Every day, we work actively to protect these rights.”
Christian Aid’s Sarah Roure said that the elections in Brazil are taking place amid “increased tensions” and that “the most marginalised groups will surely be the most affected by the results”.
“The elections occur at a time of unprecedented cuts in social spending and the expansion of the ultra-conservative discourse worries civil society organisations. That is why we want to reaffirm our commitment to stand with our partners and Brazilian society while expressing our solidarity with organisations that promote values of tolerance, peace and social justice. The organisations we work with in Brazil are mobilising to raise awareness about the danger of Bolsonaro’s victory, for example the partner INESC and the National Council of Christian Churches.”
“The potential victory of Bolsonaro is also a threat to the environment. The ultra-conservative leader has announced that he would withdraw from the Paris agreement to combat climate change, just as Donald Trump has done with the United States. But there are also other measures announced by Bolsonaro that endanger the Amazon, indigenous lands, the work of environmental NGOs and the laws of the environment. Some measures include: opening indigenous territories to mining, an activity that contributes most to climate change in Brazil; creating legislation and much more lax control on economic activities that have an environmental impact; prohibiting the access of international environmental NGOs, such as Greenpeace or WWF, to the country; dismantling federal environmental agencies and the Ministry of the Environment, whose functions would fall under the Ministry of Agriculture, which has always been opposed to respecting the rights of indigenous peoples.”
“Thus, landowners and large extractive industries are beginning to understand that if they illegally occupy land or exploit an Amazonian resource, the government will not put too many impediments. In fact, it is feared that Bolsonaro does not respect article 231 of the Constitution, which states that indigenous peoples have rights to inhabit the land even when the land belongs to the state. Some 13% of the Brazilian lands are in indigenous hands, most of them in the Amazon. And historically, indigenous people have shown a concern for the environment, as evidenced by the fact that only 2% of deforestation has occurred in indigenous lands.
“Such is the fear of Bolsonaro, that the National Coordinator of the National Association of Indigenous People has said: ‘If you win, you will institutionalize the genocide.’
“We can’t afford it.”