Brazil: President Lula Recognizes New Amazonian Reserves, Congress Pushing Back

With the Brazilian celebration of the Amazon occurring on Tuesday, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced his government’s recognition of two new Amazonian reserves. 

Situated in the Acapuri de Cima and the Rio Gregorio Indigenous territories in the states of Amazonas and Acre, and home to the Kokama, Katukina and Yawanawá people, the move comes after President Lula’s pledge to create as many indigenous reservations as possible. 

Since January, Lula has formally recognized eight territories, however, the Brazillian Congress has since moved to restrict the implementation of the policies. With the Brazilian Agricultural Committee voting in August to restrict the definition of indigenous lands. 

Under the first year of former President Jair Bolsonaro’s term, Amazon deforestation increased 88% in the month of June, with his government decreasing their efforts to combat illegal mining, logging and ranching in the territories. Conversely, President Lula campaigned on the expansion of environmental policies. 

Speaking to Reuters, Minister of Indigenous Peoples Sonia Guajajara said: “Rural interests in Congress were rushing the bill through before the country’s Supreme Court can rule whether the 1988 cut-off date violates a constitutional guarantee of Indigenous rights to their ancestral lands.”

With 1.6 Million of Brazil’s 214.3 population classed as indigenous and with an approximated 77-84 uncontacted tribes, Congress and the Agricultural Committee have pushed a bill that would not recognize new reservations on lands by indigenous unless they had lived on the land prior to the enactment of the Brazilian constitution in 1988.