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Female Indigenous Chief Confirms That Burning The Amazon Is Akin To Genocide, She’s Learning Portuguese To Speak To Brazil’s Leaders

“Our concern is that if the forest is gone, people will also end,” Ajareaty Waiapi, also known as Nazaré, told her people back in March. Protecting the Amazon rainforest has long been a top priority for environmentalists who understand the Amazon’s ability to store carbon. Nazaré is an indigenous Waiapi chief during a crucial time period under Brazil’s President Bolsonaro, who vowed during his campaign to ensure “there will not be one centimeter more of indigenous land.” He later corrected his statement and said what he actually meant was not one more millimeter.

For the last few weeks, the Amazon rainforest, which is home to much of Brazil’s 900,000 indigenous peoples, has been on fire. 

This tribal leader is on a mission to inform the world that saving her peoples means saving the planet.

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At age 58, Nazaré decided to attend a high school geography class to better understand her peoples’ land and as it relates to the rest of the world. Waiapi elders, including Nazaré, have long predicted that these fires would come–ever since Bolsonaro launched his campaign, which included promises to declassify indigenous lands as protected and open it up to agribusiness.

Brazil has experienced twice as many fires in the last three months as it did during the same time period in 2018.

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Robin Chazdon, an environmental professor at the University of Connecticut, has confirmed that there’s no reason to think environmental conditions like drought has been causing the fires. Environmental groups are pointing to the most significant change in Brazil between 2018 and 2019: Jair Bolsonaro. Once he took office in January, he rolled back environmental regulations that made it easier for cattle ranchers to illegally burn down and level the Amazon for cows to graze, be slaughtered and repackaged to meet the world’s demand for meat.

Bolsonaro has long made hostile remarks about the Indigenous people, saying they “smell, are uneducated and don’t speak our language.”

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Before he was elected president, Bolsonaro had said, “It’s a shame that the Brazilian cavalry wasn’t as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated their Indians.” All throughout his campaign, experts feared for the consequent genocide of indigenous peoples if he would be elected, given his disdain for the peoples and desire for growing agribusiness. 

President Bolsonaro has long resented protected lands for indigenous peoples, once stating that “the recognition of indigenous land is an obstacle to agribusiness.”

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During his campaign, he threatened to shut down FUNAI, Brazil’s indigenous affairs department. Instead, in June, Bolsonaro elected a federal police officer to reside as the President of FUNAI. The new president, Marcelo Xavier da Silva, once worked on an inquiry that alleged that FUNAI’s interest in protecting indigenous lands was not of the indigenous’ peoples desires, but rather a product of “external interests and ideological objectives.” According to a spokesperson for the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil, the new president already “has a long history campaigning and working against indigenous people – he was always in favor of farmers.”

The rise of Bolsonaro has prompted Nazaré to learn Portuguese so she could “talk with the white man out in the meetings.”

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There are very few female chiefs because they are less likely to go to school and learn Portuguese. Chief’s carry the responsibility of protecting their peoples from outside dangers, the largest being the colonizers that have settled the land surrounding them. Learning Portuguese is crucial in protecting their land. Nazaré started attending school at 38 years old. One of her teachers even called her “an old parrot who does not know how to learn.” Nazaré not only learned, but became a Chief because of her determination to ignore the insults.

Today, she’s encouraging all the Waiapi women to go to school in order to protect their people.

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“She always tells me to be chief in the future,” Nazaré’s daughter, Karota Waipapi, says, “to talk to all the relatives, to talk with the young people as well, so that the young people speak what she says.” Nazaré feels an urgency to pass on traditional plant medicine now that Bolsonaro has cut the budget for health care workers in indigenous communities. Back in the 1970’s, when miners illegally deforested much of the Waiapi’s land, it took far too long for the government to respond to a measles outbreak that decimated the population. Only 150 people were left by the time the vaccines came. 

Bolsonaro has rejected $20 million in aid from G7 to fight the fires, citing their aid as “imperialist.”

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The Waiapi people have long been in danger from the mere contact with other Brazilians. Today, Brazil’s careless policies that value agribusiness over people may be the end of the Waiapi unless the public steps up to fight Bolsonaro’s policies.

READ: Leonardo DiCaprio Is Helping To Lead The Fight Against The Amazon Forest Fires

Mormon Boy Who Survived Cartel Shooting Reveals His Mom’s Last Words

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Mormon Boy Who Survived Cartel Shooting Reveals His Mom’s Last Words

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The teenage boy who hiked 14 miles to save his wounded family has revealed painful details from the Mexican cartel shooting that killed nine members of his fundamentalist Mormon family, including his mother and two younger brothers. During an interview with Good Morning America, 13-year-old Devin Langford recalled the compounded trauma of his family’s car being peppered by bullets, killing his mother and siblings, and the frantic 14-mile hike back to his home. Devin horrifically describes the terrifying moment that his mom, Dawna, realized their car couldn’t whisk them to safety. “Get down. Right now,” were Dawna’s last words to her children, hoping that her advice would save them. Her words were enough to save young Devin, who survived without physical injury and was able to hike 14 miles to retrieve help for his injured siblings.

“To be honest with you,” his father, David Langford, told through tears, “my boy’s a hero simply because he gave his life for his brothers and sisters.”

“She was trying to pray to the Lord, and trying to get the car to start to get us out of there,” Devin Langford told Good Morning America.

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He thinks that the cartel had deliberately shot at the engine so that the cars would be rendered useless in an escape attempt. “Afterwards they got us out of the car, and they just got us on the floor, and they drove off,” he said, further corroborating theories that the cartel thought their SUVs belonged to that of a rival gang. Once the gunmen realized they had shot and killed three mothers and six of their children, they fled, leaving the survivors helpless.

Devin revealed that, at first, he and all his siblings had tried to walk back to the family home together. “We walked a little while until we couldn’t carry [Baby Brixton] no more,” he told ABC. Nine-month-old Brixton suffered a bullet wound on his chest and was bleeding badly. “So, we put him behind a bush,” Devin explained to ABC. “I wasn’t hit or nothing, so I started walking because every one of them were bleeding so bad, so I was trying to get in a rush to get there.”

Devin thought his family’s murderers were following him those fateful 14 miles.

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Instead of grieving or processing the violent murders of his family, or his near-death experience, he went into survival mode and left his injured siblings and the bloodied bodies of his family behind. During the six hours it takes to hike 14 miles, Devin was left with only his thoughts. Among the need to navigate without a map or compass, he was weighed down with the fear that the cartel members who let him live were in fact following him, or training a target on his back to shoot him dead in his tracks. The whole time he was worried “that there wasn’t anybody else out there trying to shoot me or follow me” or, of course, he was thinking about his mom and two brothers who died moments before.

“Every one of my children that survived are living miracles,” David told ABC.

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“How many bullet holes were fired into that vehicle… at that horrific scene and how many children were involved. It’s amazing. It’s amazing. It’s beyond amazing that they survived,” Devin’s father David Langford told the outlet. The Langfords moved to northern Mexico in the 1950s, when polygamy was banned in the United States. Now, David and his plural wife, Margaret, have moved their family back to Arizona. “Not only have I lost a wife and two children but having to move the rest of my family with really no place to go…,” David grieved the loss of an entire way of life. 

David’s sister, Leah Langford-Stadden, told the Daily News, “They’re scared for their lives. They’re leaving everything behind. It’s an exodus.” As the Langfords packed their things and began the final drive out from their home, a caravan of 100 family members joined them to send them off in solidarity. Many of them may leave as well. “It’s horrible. It’s a paradise lost, for sure. It’s heartbreaking,” Langford-Stadden said of a community shattered.

“I believe in forgiveness, but I also believe in justice and forgiveness doesn’t rob justice,” David told ABC.

Credit: Tiffany Langford / Facebook

The Langfords left hundreds of acres of pecan orchards behind after burying Dawna, 43, Trevor Harvey, 11, and Rogan Jay, 3. The FBI is now participating in Mexico’s investigation of the attack.

READ: Mexican Authorities Think The Mormon Family Was Murdered Because A Drug Lord Thought They Were A Rival Gang

A Former Brazilian President Was Just Released From Prison And Here’s What That Could Mean For The Country

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A Former Brazilian President Was Just Released From Prison And Here’s What That Could Mean For The Country

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A judge ordered the release of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, affectionately known as Lula, from prison today. Lula was sentenced to eight years and 10 months in prison in 2018, following a conviction on charges that he took bribes from engineering firms in exchange for government contracts. However, many Brazilians and officials felt Lula’s conviction was the result of corruption. 

The decision came after Brazil’s Supreme Court overturned a law that required convicts to be imprisoned if they lose their first appeal. The ruling could end up benefiting other high profile prisoners and thousands of other convicts, according to Al Jazeera, and was not met without detractors. 

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is freed from prison.

On Thursday, Brazil’s Supreme Court decided in a 6-5 vote that a person can only be imprisoned after they’ve exhausted every possible appeal to the higher courts. Lula, who is currently appealing his case, benefited from the new rule. 

“There are no grounds for the continuation of this provisional criminal enforcement,” Judge Danilo Pereira Júnior said.

The ruling could release almost 5,000 inmates who are currently appealing their convictions, according to The Guardian. 

In 2016, the courts operated on the premise that defendants who have been convicted can be imprisoned pending the decisions of any appeals. However, Brazil’s constitution states that no one can be labeled guilty unless due process is completed in its entirety. 

Justice Gilmar Mendes acknowledged that Lula’s involvement in the discourse overshadowed the discussion, but that overall it is good for the public, according to the Guardian. However, analysts say that incarcerating people before they have appealed gives authorities leverage to strike plea deals that can garner vital information. 

Many analysts are criticizing the new rule. 

The “Car Wash” operation, as it is nicknamed, that got Lula arrested, benefited from the rule. By trading plea deals that would keep convicts out of prison, prosecutors obtained information that allowed them to unravel a massive conspiracy of corruption that resulted in entrepreneurs and politicians being imprisoned for bribes and kickbacks. 

According to Al Jazeera, “The Car Wash prosecutors said the ruling would make their job harder and favor impunity because of Brazil’s ‘excessive’ appeal processes. They said in a statement that the court’s decision was out of sync with a country that wants an end to corruption.”

Not only are officials displeased with Lula’s release, but some Brazilians are also angry as well. 

“I’m not surprised, politicians rarely stay very long in jail,” Rivaldo Santos, a 43-year-old waiter in São Paulo, told The Associated Press. 

Brazilians rally in support of Lula’s release. 

Lula was a once-beloved conduit of change. The Bolsa Familia welfare program significantly reduced poverty in Brazil, and his policies created widespread economic growth. Lula left the office with an 80% approval rating, only to have his legacy tarnished by his involvement in the Car Wash operation. 

In a turning point over the summer, Brazilians were left stunned by allegations that prosecutors and a judge colluded together in the criminal investigation of Lula. Sergio Moro, the judge who convicted Lula, allegedly gave prosecutors strategic advice and tips during the investigation. 

“The judge’s relationship with prosecutors is scandalous,” the Intercept Brasil’s executive editor, Leandro Demori, told The Guardian. “This is illegal under Brazilian law.”

The revelations caused many to wonder if Lula had been wrongfully imprisoned altogether. Last year, Lula was the left-leaning presidential frontrunner only to have his imprisonment pave the way for the far-right Jair Bolsonaro to snag the presidency. Thus, many Brazilians still revere Lula for the sweeping changes he brought to Brazil while wondering all that could have been.

“He is very happy and so are we,” Gilberto Carvalho, Lula’s former chief of staff and one of the leaders of the Workers Party, told The Washington Post. “We are pinching ourselves to make sure this is all true.”

Bernie Sanders and others praise the release of Lula.

“As President, Lula has done more than anyone to lower poverty in Brazil and to stand up for workers. I am delighted that he has been released from jail, something that never should have happened in the first place,” Sanders tweeted.  

“Lula is free. He walked out of Sergio Moro’s prison today, where he spent almost 2 years as a result of corrupted process conducted by a corrupt judge (now Bolsonaro’s Minister of Justice and Public Security) and corrupt prosecutors,” journalist Glenn Greenwald said on Twitter. 

While Brazil was set on an entirely different course after Bolsonaro’s election, perhaps, Lula’s release can usher in needed change.

“[Lula] is eager to come out, but at the same time he is asking everyone to stay calm and be careful with provocations to keep an atmosphere of peace,” Carvalho said.