Statement on the Amazon Rainforest fires and Brazilian President Jair Bolonsaro’s war on Indigenous peoples and the environment

Pictured: Natural-color satellite image of smoke from wildfires burning in the Amazon basin, Brazil, on August 20, 2019. Taken by the Suomi NPP using the VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite).(Image: NASA - Public Domain)

Joint Statement from Tom B.K. Goldtooth, Executive Director of Indigenous Environmental Network and Lindsey Allen, Executive Director of Rainforest Action Network

News Release

Indigenous Environmental Network

Rainforest Action Network

“It’s a shame that the Brazilian cavalry hasn’t been as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated the Indians.”

“The Indians do not speak our language, they do not have money, they do not have culture. They are native peoples. How did they manage to get 13 percent of the national territory.” 

“There is no Indigenous territory where there aren’t minerals. Gold, tin and magnesium are in these lands, especially in the Amazon, the richest area in the world. I’m not getting into this nonsense of defending land for Indians.” 

These are just a few of the shameful and hateful words of Brazil’s current president, Jair Bolonsaro. As he was running for president, Bolsonaro also promised to open up the Amazon for mining and agriculture, as he also promised to “crack down” on environmental activists. The biggest newspaper in Brazil, O Globo, called this a “war on NGOs.” 

The catastrophic fires raging in Brazil right now are not only a global emergency, they are a testament to Bolonsaro’s racism, ignorance and greed. His words and deeds have paved the way for these man-made fires. We know that protecting tropical rainforests, stopping fossil fuel emissions and upholding the rights of Indigenous Peoples are some of the most important ways to address the global impacts of the growing climate crisis. That’s true in the Amazon. That’s true in the Indonesia rainforests. That’s true at Standing Rock.  

Indigenous Environmental Network and Rainforest Action Network are in complete support of our sisters and brothers in Brazil fighting for their way of life, for their rights and their land, and for our planet and future.

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(Image: Indigenous Environmental Network)
Rainforest Action Network
(Image: Rainforest Action Network)
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