Native rights groups in Brazil are concerned about a decision announced by the country’s new far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, to strip an agency of the responsibility to demarcate indigenous lands.
The decree published late on December 2 marked Bolsonaro’s first order since taking office earlier that same day. Bolsonaro is a far-right veteran lawmaker who won election in October by promising a pro-business, anti-crime agenda.
As reported by the Agence France-Presse (AFP), the decree stipulates that the FUNAI agency in charge of indigenous affairs will no longer have a say over creating and defining the boundaries of lands occupied by indigenous people in Brazil. Instead, the agriculture ministry will take over those functions.
Bolsonaro has said he intends to loosen regulations holding back farming and mining interests in Brazil, including those relating to nature preservation and indigenous land.
According to AFP, part of his proposed reform is to bring FUNAI under the ministry in charge of human rights, instead of the justice ministry where it is currently placed.
Bolsonaro had planned to merge the agriculture and environment ministries but backtracked when that provoked an outcry.
“You see? The dismantlement has already started. FUNAI is no longer responsible for the identification, delimitation and demarcation of indigenous lands,” a far-left indigenous leader, Sonia Guajajara, tweeted.