Brazil’s recently elected president is of basically the same mindset as Donald Trump. On Tuesday (Jan 1, 2019), far-right President Jair Bolsonaro was installed in office and immediately issued executive orders targeting the country’s indigenous groups, descendants of slaves and the LGBT community in the first hours of his administration.
Bolsanaro’s actions come after a campaign in which the leader said he would radically overhaul many aspects of life in Latin America’s largest nation, according to a report via Aljazeera:
One of the orders issued late on Tuesday, hours after his inauguration, will likely make it all but impossible for new lands to be identified and demarcated for indigenous communities. Areas set aside for “Quilombolas”, as descendants of former slaves are known, are also affected by the decision.
In the move favourable to his allies in agribusiness, which have criticised giving large swaths of lands to native groups, Bolsonaro transferred the responsibilities for delineating indigenous territories from the Justice Ministry to the Agriculture Ministry. The new agriculture minister, Tereza Cristina, is part of the agribusiness caucus in Brazil’s lower house and has opposed requests from native communities.
The temporary decree, which will expire unless it is ratified within 120 days by Congress, strips power over land claim decisions from indigenous affairs agency FUNAI, previously under the Justice Ministry. FUNAI, which also oversees other initiatives for indigenous communities such as healthcare, housing and language preservation, will be moved into a new ministry for family, women and human rights.
Meantime, Marina Silva, who ran against Bolsanaro and lost in the October election, reacted with shock to the orders.
“Bolsonaro has begun his government in the worst possible way,” she wrote on Twitter.
Dinama Tuxa, a member of Brazil’s Association of Indigenous Peoples, said many isolated communities viewed Bolsonaro’s administration with fear.
“We are very afraid because Bolsonaro is attacking indigenous policies, rolling back environmental protections, authorizing the invasion of indigenous territories and endorsing violence against indigenous peoples,” Tuxa said