Brazil’s New President Bolsonaro gives Brazil farm ministry powers on indigenous land, in clear win for farmers

Bolsonaro gives Brazil farm ministry powers on indigenous land - moved welcomed by farmers

Bolsonaro gives Brazil farm ministry powers on indigenous land – moved welcomed by farmers

New Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro issued an executive order on Wednesday making the Agriculture Ministry responsible for deciding on lands claimed by indigenous peoples, in a victory for agribusiness that will likely enrage environmentalists. 

SAO PAULO/BRASILIA|Reuters|AIWA! NO!| – New Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro issued an executive order on Wednesday making the Agriculture Ministry responsible for deciding on lands claimed by indigenous peoples, in a victory for agribusiness that will likely enrage environmentalists.

The temporary decree, which will expire unless it is ratified within 120 days by Congress, strips power over land claim decisions from indigenous affairs agency FUNAI.

It hands it to the Agriculture Ministry, which will now be responsible for “identification, delimitation, demarcation and registration of lands traditionally occupied by indigenous people.”

The move is likely to stoke concern among environmentalists and rights groups that the far-right new president, who took office on Tuesday, will open up the vast Amazon rainforest and other ecologically sensitive areas of Brazil to greater commercial exploitation.

The executive order also moves the Brazilian Forestry Service, which promotes the sustainable use of forests and is currently linked to the Environment Ministry, under the control of the Agriculture Ministry.

Additionally, the decree states that the Agriculture Ministry will be in charge of the management of public forests.

Bolsonaro, who enjoys strong support from Brazil’s powerful agribusiness sector, said during his campaign he was considering such a move, arguing that currently protected lands should be opened to commercial activities.

Brazil’s 900,000 indigenous people make up less than 1 percent of the population, but live on lands that stretch for 106.7 million hectares (264 million acres), or 12.5 pct of the national territory.

Tereza Cristina Dias, Bolsonaro’s new agriculture minister, used to be the head of the farm caucus in Brazil’s Congress, which has long pushed for an end to land measures that it argues hold back the agricultural sector.

GOOD NEWS FOR GRAINS PRODUCERS

Bartolomeu Braz, the president of the national chapter of Aprosoja, a major grain growers association, cheered Wednesday’s move.

“We support the initiative of transferring to the agriculture ministry the responsibility of demarcating indigenous land,” he said.

“The new rules will be interesting to the farmers and the Indians, some of whom are already producing soybeans. The Indians want to be productive too,” he added.

Critics say Bolsonaro’s plan to open indigenous reservations to commercial activity will destroy native cultures and languages by integrating the tribes into Brazilian society.

Environmentalists say the native peoples are the last custodians of the Amazon, which is the world’s largest rainforest and is vital for climate stability.

“We are very afraid because Bolsonaro is attacking indigenous policies, rolling back environmental protections, authorizing the invasion of indigenous territories and endorsing violence against indigenous peoples,” said Dinamã Tuxá, a member of Brazil’s Association of Indigenous Peoples.

A former army captain and longtime member of Congress, Bolsonaro said at his inauguration on Tuesday that he had freed the country from “socialism and political correctness.”

A strong admirer of Donald Trump, Bolsonaro has suggested he will follow the U.S. president’s lead and pull out of the Paris climate change accord.

His supporters hope he will cut through red tape to kick-start the economy, tackle violent drug gangs and run a graft-free government. Others fear he will unleash bloodshed by making guns more readily available and roll back social gains for minorities.

Under the new plan, the indigenous affairs agency FUNAI will be moved into a new ministry for family, women and human rights.

During her inauguration as agriculture minister on Wednesday, Dias did not mention the executive order, but sought to defend the farm sector from accusations it has grown at the expense of the environment, saying Brazil has some of the world’s toughest environmental laws.

She also promised a streamlining of bureaucracy and increased rule of law in the agricultural sector.

(Reporting by Stefani Inouye, Carolina Mandl, Anthony Boadle, Ana Mano 


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Brazil’s Bolsonaro assumes presidency, promises big changes

Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro (L) and wife Michele (2-L) head to the Planalto Palace on a Rolls Royce, for a ceremony in which Bolsonaro received the presidential band from his predecessor, Michel Temer, in Brasilia, Brazil, 01 January 2019. EPA-Yonhap

Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro (L) and wife Michele (2-L) head to the Planalto Palace on a Rolls Royce, for a ceremony in which Bolsonaro received the presidential band from his predecessor, Michel Temer, in Brasilia, Brazil, 01 January 2019. EPA-Yonhap

|THE KOREA TIMES|AIWA! NO!|Jair Bolsonaro was sworn in as Brazil’s president Tuesday, taking the reins of Latin America’s largest and most populous nation with promises to overhaul myriad aspects of daily life and put an end to business-as-usual governing. 

For the far-right former army captain, the New Year’s Day inauguration was the culmination of a journey from a marginalized and even ridiculed congressman to a leader who many Brazilians hope can combat endemic corruption as well as violence that routinely gives the nation the dubious distinction of being world leader in total homicides. 

A fan of U.S. President Donald Trump, the 63-year-old longtime congressman rose to power on an anti-corruption and pro-gun agenda that has energized conservatives and hard-right supporters after four consecutive presidential election wins by the left-leaning Workers’ Party.

Bolsonaro was the latest of several far-right leaders around the globe who have come to power by riding waves of anger at the establishment and promising to ditch the status quo.

“Congratulations to President (at)jairbolsonaro who just made a great inauguration speech,” Trump tweeted. “The U.S.A. is with you!” 

Tuesday festivities in the capital of Brasilia began with a motorcade procession along the main road leading to Congress and other government buildings. Bolsonaro and his wife, Michelle, stood up in an open-top Rolls-Royce and waved to thousands of onlookers. 

They were surrounded by dozens of guards on horses and plain-clothes bodyguards who ran beside the car. 

Once inside Congress, Bolsonaro and his vice president, retired Gen. Hamilton Mourao, took the oath of office. Bolsonaro then read a short speech that included many of the far-right positions he staked out during the campaign. 

He promised to combat the “ideology of gender” teaching in schools, “respect our Judeo-Christian tradition” and “prepare children for the job market, not political militancy.”

“I call on all congressmen to help me rescue Brazil from corruption, criminality and ideological submission,” he said. 

A short time later, Bolsonaro spoke to thousands of supporters outside, promising to “free Brazil” from socialism and political correctness. 

As he spoke, supporters began to chant “Myth! Myth! Myth!” ― a nickname that began years ago with internet memes of Bolsonaro and became more common during last year’s campaign. Bolsonaro’s middle name is Messias, or Messiah in English, and many supporters believe he was chosen by God to lead Brazil, an assertion bolstered after Bolsonaro survived a stabbing during a campaign rally in September. 

During Tuesday’s speech, Bolsonaro stopped at one point, pulled out a Brazilian flag and wildly waved it, prompting roars from the crowd.

“Our flag will never be red,” Bolsonaro said, a reference to communism. “Our flag will only be red if blood is needed to keep it green and yellow.”

Brasilia was under tight security, with 3,000 police patrolling the event. Military tanks, fighter jets and even anti-aircraft missiles also were deployed. Journalists were made to arrive at locations seven hours before festivities began, and many complained on Twitter of officials confiscating food they had brought for the wait. 

The increased security came at Bolsonaro’s request. His intestine was pierced when a knife-wielding man stabbed and nearly killed him, and today Bolsonaro wears a colostomy bag. His sons, politicians themselves, had insisted their father could be targeted by radicals, but security officials have not spoken of threats.

Bolsonaro did little moderating since being elected in October, with progressives and liberals decrying stances that they say are homophobic, sexist and racist. 

The new president, who spent nearly three decades in Congress, has also drawn international criticism for his plans to roll back regulations in the Amazon and his disinterest in social programs in a country that is one of the world’s most unequal in terms of income.

On the economic front, where Bolsonaro will ultimately lead Latin America’s largest economy is unknown, as during the campaign he reversed course from previous statist stances with pledges to lead market-friendly reforms. He also promised to overhaul Brazil’s pension system and privatize several state-owned companies, which gave him wide support among financial players.

On Tuesday, Bolsonaro reiterated his commitment to fighting crime in a nation that has long led the world in annual homicides. More than 63,000 people were killed last year.