Cimi Statement on Jair Bolsonaro’s UN speech

Contrary to the version presented in the president’s speech, the reality experienced by indigenous peoples in Brazil, under the current government, is one of conflicts, violence and the denial of rights

Conselho Indigenista Missionário - CimiThe Indigenous Missionary Council – Cimi regrets the untruths uttered by President Jair Bolsonaro at the opening of the 76th UN General Assembly. In a speech delivered this September 21, he affirmed a series of policies developed by his government, based on a self-conceived criterion, based on a parallel reality existing only in the narrative created by the president and his government.

The clash between the fictitious statement and the reality experienced by most Brazilians was evident. As for the indigenous issue, the president cites that about 600,000 indigenous people would be living in complete freedom on their land, that the indigenous people would aspire to live from “agriculture” and that 80% of indigenous people would already be vaccinated in Brazil, which is not true.

The reality experienced by indigenous peoples in Brazil, in the current government, is conflicting and one of violence. President Jair Bolsonaro already promised in a campaign that, if elected, he would not demarcate an inch of indigenous land; since 2018, in fact, no indigenous land has been regularized. Dialogue with peoples and their organizations was denied based on an integrationist and prejudiced vision, which denies the identity and autonomy of indigenous peoples in Brazil.

The fact that there are 829 indigenous lands in Brazil with administrative disputes, 536 of which without any action by the State to start their demarcation process, belies the assertion that indigenous peoples would be “living in their lands in freedom”. On the contrary: the actions of this government were all aimed at rendering unfeasible or reducing the right to demarcation and exclusive usufruct of indigenous peoples over their traditionally occupied lands.

In 2019, the Ministry of Justice returned to the National Indian Foundation (Funai) 27 administrative procedures for the regularization of indigenous lands, which had already passed all identification phases and were awaiting the issuance of the declaratory ordinance, to submit them to the thesis of the “marco temporal” – effectively barring the advance of these demarcations. All the government’s indigenous policy that conceived various public measures, as well as social control, were dismantled.

Funai’s budget was reduced and the agency was handed over to the agribusiness ruralists. It is important to note that the indigenous public policies are State actions for indigenous peoples, earned and conceived in the 1988 Federal Constitution.

In 2020, the government sent the Federal Chamber Bill (PL) 191/2020, to regulate the exploitation of mineral and water resources in indigenous territories. In April of the same year, Funai published Normative Instruction No. 09, which makes it possible to issue declarations and certification of private properties in indigenous lands that have not yet been regularized.

In January 2021, Funai published Resolution No. 04, which established new criteria for “heteroidentification” of indigenous peoples in Brazil – later suspended by the Supreme Court (STF). In February 2021, it published the Joint Normative Instruction Funai/Ibama No. 01, which regulates the environmental licensing of projects in indigenous lands. All these regulations were drawn up without the participation of indigenous peoples and came to establish new territorial conflicts.

As a result of these actions, the indigenous people were surprised by the increase in the invasion of territories by miners, loggers, real estate subdivisions, road construction, in addition to the expansion of agribusiness for the planting of grains and livestock. This advance took place with the explicit support of the current government, and in the midst of a sanitary crisis caused by the coronavirus.

During the critical phase of the pandemic, Bill (PL) 1142, authored by Deputies Rosa Neide and Joênia Wapishana, was presented to the Chamber and Senate, which proposed very urgent measures to support indigenous peoples in the face of the federal government’s omission. Once the bill was approved, the President of the Republic vetoed 16 of its 25 articles, including the one that provided access to drinking water for indigenous communities.

Likewise, the Allegation of Non-Compliance with a Fundamental Precept (ADPF) 709, authored by the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (Apib) and granted by the full STF in favor of urgent measures for indigenous communities during the pandemic, was systematically postponed by the government , with no practical effect to this day. The president, citing that 80% of the indigenous population is vaccinated, refers to the National Immunization Plan carried out by the government, in which he conceives the existence of only 410,000 indigenous people in Brazil, and not the almost 850,000 existing indigenous people, according to the census of IBGE in 2010, a number that is well outdated today.

We emphasize that the President of the Republic, when citing the expansion of agriculture in indigenous lands, actually refers to the predatory model of agribusiness, based on monoculture and the intense use of poison. The real intention of the government is for the indigenous people to release their lands for agribusiness to explore, a fact that is explicit in the support that the government has expressed to the thesis of a time frame for the benefit of this sector.

Since 2019, when using the space of the UN General Assembly, President Jair Bolsonaro has made statements about indigenous peoples, their territories and the government policy for these totally unreal peoples, mainly aiming at capturing economic resources for predatory capital to exploit the natural resources with greater impunity. In addition, the lack of measures to regularize indigenous territories has generated harmful impacts on the environment, with an exacerbated increase in deforestation and fires.

Cimi, aware of the reality experienced by indigenous peoples in Brazil, denounced in the “Levante pela Terra”, “Struggle for Life” and “II National March of Indigenous Women” camps, which were held in Brasília and brought together more than 15,000 indigenous from April to September 2021, rejects President Jair Bolsonaro’s speech and the practice of his government. We call on the national and international society to continue supporting the struggle for the realization of the rights of indigenous peoples, with the real possibilities of having a healthier environment, balanced with life on the Planet, our Common Home.

Brasília, September 21, 2021, Day of the Tree


Indigenous Missionary Council – Cimi

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