Bolsonaro's Actions Endanger Brazil's Historical and Cultural Assets

Government wants to work with business interests and promote changes in Iphan, the main Brazilian preservation agency

São Paulo

Images of the controversial ministerial meeting that has been causing turmoil for ten days in Brasília shed light on a fight involving the preservation of the country's cultural heritage and Jair Bolsonaro's view of the subject. In the dispute between protection agencies and the civil construction and tourism market, the president wants to make the work of the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute, Iphan, more malleable to economic interests.

The country's leading preservation agency has on its list of properties the cultural landscape of Rio de Janeiro, the region of Luz and the Teatro Oficina, both in São Paulo, the architectural ensemble of Pampulha, in Belo Horizonte, the historic center of Salvador, in addition to several archaeological sites. These are areas are valued for their location and also for their condition and the historical landscape. So they have been targeted by construction companies and hotel chains.

Salvador, Bahia, Pelourinho Crédito: Crédito: Max Haack / Prefeitura de Salvador

At the meeting in late April, the Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, said that, with attention focused on the coronavirus, it was time to push through projects that include those paralyzed by Iphan.

Bolsonaro also criticized the agency and said that it has been hindering the completion of works. He recalled Havan stores, owned by businessman Luciano Hang. According to the president, Iphan interrupts projects because of "petrified poop from Indian".

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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