Bolsonaro Increases Conflicts Of Interests Over Indigenous Lands

Companies and ruralist lawmakers are speeding up bills to increase tribal monetary gains in exchange for allowing explorations in reservations

Fernando Canzian
São Paulo

Native Brazilians, congresspeople and business owners are preparing for a new phase of conflicts of interest in the exploration of Brazilian indigenous reservations.

In the private sector, there is an expectation of new business opportunities with the president-elect Jair Bolsonaro's stance of giving the indigenous peoples more autonomy in the use of their lands. He also has said he doesn't intend of declaring any other reservations.

Lawmakers from the Rural Caucus are trying to rush bills to expand the use of indigenous lands, but they are facing obstacles from tribal leaders, who are also searching for opportunities that they like.

Bolsonaro suggested that tribes to gain royalties from hydropower plants, through the use of their lands, and a group of Brazilian and foreign companies is preparing a bill to make this idea a reality.

The idea, according to a director from French company Engie, is to give the tribes a percentage of revenue from the new hydropower plants.

The Constitution grants Native Brazilian the right over their ancestral lands, but there is no formal regulation on how to consult them over a future exploration, neither terms for compensation.

According to indigenous rights nonprofit Instituto Socioambiental, the country has 721 indigenous reservations.

For Native Brazilian rights advocates, indigenous peoples have different socioeconomic needs and priorities should go to preserving their lands, not exploring them.

Translated by NATASHA MADOV

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