Fierce

Indigenous Women Of Brazil Are Refusing To Keep Quiet Over The Country’s President’s Policies

Last week, hundreds of Indigenous women took to the streets to protest against the policies of Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. According to BBC, indigenous women occupied the building of Brazil’s health ministry in the capital of Brasília and demanded better healthcare for the Indigenous people of the country and called for an end to the destruction of the Amazon. 

It has been reported that about 300 Indigenous women condemned the proposed changes to women’s healthcare and deforestation in Brazil in a peaceful demonstration that lasted over 10 hours. 

The Indigenous women of the country were protesting, according to a tweet by AJ+,  “rollbacks on Indigenous rights and efforts to open up Indigenous lands to minding and agriculture.” AJ+ shared powerful images of Indigenous women coming together to fight for their rights and to “cry out for help.” 

Under the far-right president Bolsonaro, Brazil has backtracked on rights and protections for the Indigenous community. For example, Brazil has let “agriculture ministry make decisions about Indigenous land, blocked any new reservations, [and] proposed to close specialized Indigenous health care offices.” 

“We’ve been left abandoned,” 43-year-old Teresa Cristina Kezonazokere told Correio Braziliense newspaper (in Portuguese, according to BBC). “They treat Indigenous people like animals.”

According to The Associated Press, Bolsonaro’s administration—since taking office in January—has continuously “clashed with environmentalists and others over possibly opening up the Amazon rainforest to development and agribusiness.”

The president wants to open their lands to agriculture and mining. The Globe Post also reports that President Bolsonaro has been warned by experts and activists about such policies that will have “devastating environmental impacts, particularly in worsening climate change.”

However, Bolsonaro continues to dismiss the facts and data showing that the effects of his policies will affect Indigenous land. “Bolsonaro has dismissed the data as lies and sacked the head of the government agency tasked with tracking tree clearing,” The Globe Post reports. 

Further, Brazil’s government wants to make towns and cities responsible for providing medical services to its Indigenous people—putting the pressure on community leaders and local officials. But community leaders fear that their communities lack the “infrastructure” to do this. According to BBC, the federal government is currently in charge of these responsibilities.

Tamikua Faustino of the Pataxó tribe told the AP that “if we don’t stick together, in the near future we’ll be eliminated.”

This surge in deforestation that occurs on Indigenous reserves would essentially eliminate Indigenous folks from the places they inhabit.

In an AJ+ video shared on Twitter, articulation of the Indigenous people of Brazil Sonia Guajajara said: “We will resist because we’ve been here for five centuries and we have a good experience in resisting.” The Indigenous community is being backed by thousands of community members and supports in fighting back against President Bolsonaro’s government.

When Indigenous folks took the streets of Brazil to protest, they didn’t hold back. Many did so carrying bows, arrows, and spears, and the Indigenous women advanced on Congress in Brasilia carrying a large banner that read: “Resist to exist.” Women leading the frontlines are demanding the protection of their land. 

A couple of days after the initial demonstration took place, about 1,500 indigenous women from 110 ethnic groups were expected to join a protest to defend their rights that are under threat under the Bolsonaro administration.

According to BBC, the president has “promised to integrate Indigenous people into the rest of the population and repeatedly questioned the existence of their protected reserves, which are rights guaranteed in the country’s constitution.” The president who favors development over conservation of Indigenous land and reservations has also said that the Indigenous territories are “too big in relation to the number of people who live there,” therefore making it okay to open land that does not belong to him, to agriculture, minding, and essentially destruction. 

Earlier this month, The Globe Post published an opinion piece highlighting the ways in which Bolsonaro and his presidency were destroying the Brazilian Amazon.   

According to data, deforestation in the Amazon region has skyrocketed and there’s no turning back. In June 2019, deforestation showed to be 88 percent higher than the levels of deforestation seen in June 2018. And in the first half of July 2019, it was 68 percent higher than the entire month of the previous year. 

It’s important to note that more than 800,000 Indigenous people live in 450 Indigenous territories across Brazil and most are located in the Amazon region and some communities live totally isolated. 

But the Indigenous women of Brazil are not backing down. In a video posted by AJ+ on Twitter, one of the women can be seen saying that they’re going to defend nature and defend the forest. “We are defending our children’s lives, but also the lives of the people on the other side of the world,” she adds. “Because the air we breathe is the air you breathe.”

The Violence Against Women In Brazil Is Escalating And A New Study Shows That Girls Under 13 Are Being Targeted

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The Violence Against Women In Brazil Is Escalating And A New Study Shows That Girls Under 13 Are Being Targeted

jairmessiasbolsonaro / fepaesleme / Instagram

A troubling study is highlighting the horrible state of women’s safety in Brazil. This time, a non-governmental organization found that girls under the age of 13 are facing a horrific trend of rapes within the South American country. Here is what the study by the Brazilian Forum of Public Security found.

A new study shows that four girls under 13 are raped every hour in Brazil.

Credit: Saulo Cruz / Flickr

The study also found that police receive a call every two minutes to report a violent attack against a woman. The study shows a very troubling side of one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women.

“Brazil is still one of the most dangerous places in the world for women,” Valeria Scarance, a public prosecutor, told Brazilian newspaper Globo’s Jornal Nacional. “And the most dangerous place for a woman is her own home.”

To make matters worse, the Brazilian government has been stripping away crucial places of safety for women. According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), in 2017, the Brazilian government closed 23 shelters for victims fo domestic violence citing budget cuts as the reason. The following year, Jair Bolsonaro was elected as president and it sparked fear and outrage throughout the country. At the start of 2018, the HRC also found that 1.2 million domestic violence cases were pending before courts throughout the country.

The violence against women in Brazil has been at the forefront of Brazilian protests for years, even before the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.

Credit: @StylistMagazine / Twitter

In the lead up to one of the largest sporting event in the world, Brazilians protested to warn potential tourists of the crimes being committed. The famous Copacabana Beach was filled with panties and images of women who have been sexually assaulted in Brazil.

Brazilians highlighted the death of a 17-year-old girl at the hands of a group of men to warn tourists of the dangers of being in the country.

The election of Jair Bolsonaro reignited the efforts of protesters across the country to bring attention to the violence women face every day in Brazil.

Bolsonaro, like President Trump, energized the far-right of Brazil. Minority groups, women, and the indigenous defenders tried to warn the nation against electing Bolsonaro are the president of Brazil to no avail. Since taking office, Bolsonaro has attacked women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, indigenous rights, environmental rights, and anything you can really think of.

In one display of troubling rhetoric, Bolsonaro told a congresswoman that she was not worthy of being raped. He made the statement on Brazil’s TV Globo and stated he wasn’t worth rape because she was too ugly, sparking outrage.

As the world deals with injustices at the hands of apathetic governments, Brazilians are trying to fight to save women.

Credit: @Prynces11 / Twitter

The violence against women is startling in Brazil. Only time will tell if Brazilians will be able to put enough pressure on the nation’s leaders to exact the change they want to see for women’s rights.

READ: Indigenous Women Of Brazil Are Refusing To Keep Quiet Over The Country’s President’s Policies

Seven South American Nations Sign An Environmental Pact To Protect The Amazon, Just Like Three Months Too Late

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Seven South American Nations Sign An Environmental Pact To Protect The Amazon, Just Like Three Months Too Late

Guillermo Legaria / Getty Images

There is a wise old Mexican saying that goes: “Ahogado el niño se tapa el pozo“. It roughly translates as “Once the child drowns the well is shut off”. In other words, sometimes horrible things need to happen for people to react and come up with solutions or at least a bit of an effort to prevent further catastrophes. Well, that’s the feeling that we get with the recently signed pact to protect the Amazon after fires savaged los pulmones de la Madre Tierra for weeks. 

The meeting was initially called by the host and the Peruvian president, as the Sunday Star Times reports: “The host, Colombian President Ivan Duque, and his Peruvian counterpart Martin Vizcarra called for the meeting following global outrage over a surge in the number of fires in Brazil’s Amazon region this year, which triggered protests at Brazilian diplomatic missions worldwide over Bolsonaro’s alleged indifference to environmental concerns”. So what is the pact all about and what is the deal with Bolsonaro?

The pact was signed by seven South American nations.

Credit: default. Digital image. Euronews.

The signing countries are: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Surinam. The pact was signed in the Colombian town of Leticia, deep in the Amazon, last Friday September 6. The pact has 14 points and it focuses on improvements to disaster response coordination among the seven countries, and increased satellite monitoring of the world’s largest rainforest. Other notable points include education around environmental matters and an increased participation of indigenous communities on policies and projects. The document also looks to curb illegal species trafficking, illegal mineral extraction, deforestation and planting of illicit crops (so, drugs). 

The host, Colombian president Ivan Duque, called for unity.

Credit: Instagram. @ivanduquemarquez

The host said: “This meeting will live on as a co-ordination mechanism for the presidents that share this treasure – the Amazon”. But he also expressed a wider message: “We believe that this is a moral duty, our societies are increasingly aware of the need to protect our shared home, of our Mother Earth”. We certainly hope these are more that pretty words. As abuelitas say, del dicho al hecho hay mucho trecho. It is worth noting that the original owners of the land were present, as CE Noticias Financieras reports: “Representatives of indigenous communities were also present at the meeting and the instance was concretized to a traditional ceremonial area in the Monilla Amena community”. 

Notably absent was Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, who “attended” via video conference.

Credit: Instagram. @michellebolssonaro

The Brazilian leader, who has been widely criticized for his reluctance to accept foreign aid during the fires, was at hospital at the time. Bolsonaro, however, delivered a message that can only be read as support for continuing efforts to mine indigenous reserves and protected areas. He said:  “Our riches will be utilized in a sustainable way, in accordance to the resources that we have”. We don’t have to read too much between the lines to realize that this is a somewhat veiled way to say they will continue exploiting the Amazon for its natural resources… wildlife and indigenous rights be damned. 

Only two Amazon countries did not sign the pact: Venezuela and France, who owns the French Guiana.

Credit: Instagram. @picturesoftheamazon

Will they join in the efforts to protect the biggest single source of oxygen in the world? We certainly hope so. They also have to be held accountable!

And there were some discrepancies over the ways in which the Amazon can be saved.

Credit: Instagram. @TheForestInitiative

The participants in this meeting didn’t all see eye to eye. Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno, who was himself born in the Amazon, said: “We are killing the Earth, and all of us are responsible”. But Bolsonaro claimed that foreign countries were using the fires to conspire against the sovereignty of the regions’ nations.  So clearly out of the seven at least Brazil is looking after industry lobbyists, perhaps?

But at the end we are all responsible for our planet and the Amazon fires were yet another wake up call! 

Credit: Instagram. @climatesavemovement

Environmentalists and activists in pro of animal rights stressed out the fact that the Amazon fires were in part to blame on the meat industry. While we can disagree with a total ban on meat, fact is that climate-related emergencies will be the norm rather than the exception in the coming years, and we do have to thing about our consumption habits and the ways in which we harvest riches from the land. 

Truth is, politicians will always use catastrophes to increase their profile, so we have to ALL make an effort to protect the environment.

Credit: Instagram. @evomoralesayma

Perhaps we are being too cynical, but the Amazon disaster has conveniently brought out the best out of politicians. Evo Morales, for example, has had too many photo ops related to the rainforest relief efforts, right in the middle of an electoral campaign and when his long rule over Bolivia is being harshly questioned by the opposition. So it is up to us, as Latinos and as human beings, to hold those in power accountable for protecting our home.