Kretã Kaingang: “For our indigenous peoples, since the election of Lula, it is as if Brazil is coming back to life”

Marianne: Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will take office as President of Brazil on January 1, 2023. How did you welcome his re-election? Do you fear unrest in your territories by then?

Kreta Kaingang: We celebrated Lula’s victory because it will put a stop to the policies of great violence, and even fascists, that Jair Bolsonaro and his government have been deploying since 2019 against our peoples. For us, since Lula’s election, it’s as if Brazil came back to life! During this presidential election, civil society was widely mobilized. Thousands of local committees have been created. In the months to come, they will continue their activity, in order to open the eyes of our compatriots indoctrinated by the lies of Jair Bolsonaro.

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The year promises to be tough all the same. Many representatives of the agrarian lobby, the federal police, Bolsonarist evangelists were elected in the two chambers that make up the Congress of Brazil, the Federal Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Personally, I ran for deputy in Paraná, a state in southern Brazil where my people were decimated. But I was not elected. In the second round, I campaigned for Lula as a citizen.

You met the candidate Lula three times during his election campaign. What concrete commitments has it made to indigenous peoples?

I exchanged twice with Lula in São Paulo, once in Brasília (the capital) within the Camp Terre Libre, the name of the mobilization which each year brings together more than a thousand indigenous leaders from all regions of the country. . From June 2020, despite the danger of the Covid-19 pandemic, these rallies have also helped to mobilize against Jair Bolsonaro.

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In front of me, Inacio Lula first pledged to create a Ministry of Indigenous Peoples which will have its own national budget. This will be a very important first for us. Two candidates in particular are well placed to take up this position: the federal deputy elected in São Paulo, Sonia Guarajajara, born in an Amazonian village. And lawyer Joênia Wapichana.

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Then, Lula promised us to appoint an indigenous leader to head the Indian Foundation (FUNAI) – the Brazilian administration responsible for protecting our lands and our peoples. [Jair Bolsonaro a placé à sa tête un commissaire, Marcelo Xavier, accusé d’être lié aux militaires et à l’agro-négoce]. Finally, the management of SESAI, the special secretariat for indigenous health, will also be entrusted to a leader from an indigenous people.

During Inacio Lula’s first two presidential terms, between 2003 and 2011, you were disappointed, however, because all your demands for the demarcation and protection of indigenous lands were not met. You also fought against the construction of the huge Belo Monte hydroelectric dam, supported by Dilma Rousseff, who succeeded Lula in 2011. Do you have any new guarantees on these subjects?

Before his election, Lula did not explicitly promise me to demarcate new indigenous territories, although 760 officially filed requests are still pending. He probably didn’t want to scare off rural voters.

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On the other hand, at COP 27, which is being held this week in Sharm el-Sheik in Egypt, it has just made a firm commitment to everything that’s necessary to achieve zero deforestation and the degradation of Brazilian ecosystems by 2030. And he assured that he would give the administrations that protect them the means to achieve this. It’s urgent ! Bolsonaro supporters continue to block roads. Houses in villages of Guarani Indians were recently burnt down. And we fear other abuses because the farmers and poachers who deforest the Amazon now know that the party is over for them.

At the invitation of the Stop CETA-Mercosur collective, you are in Paris to also warn about the relaunch of the Mercosur trade agreement under negotiation between Brazil and the European Union (EU), suspended by the EU shortly afterwards. the election of Jair Bolsonaro as president. What do you fear from these negotiations, the content of which remains confidential?

Your fellow citizens must understand that the commercial policies carried out in Europe are seriously damaging our territories and our lives. Thus in Paraná, my people watched over the Atlantic forest, until it was devastated by the cultivation of soybeans on these soils. However, this soya is exported mainly to Asia and Europe in order to feed your livestock. After Paraná, the Cerrado, the Pantanal and then the Amazon were attacked.

All these biomes are interrelated, so that if we do nothing, the Amazon risks in turn disappearing, and with it the 325 peoples who inhabit it, 80 of whom have chosen to isolate themselves completely. Destroying forests means destroying life in the rest of the world, since indigenous peoples, who represent 2% of the planet’s population, protect 80% of its biodiversity. On the one hand, you must demand that the European Union stop importing products and meat from deforestation. And on the other hand, that its 27 Member States refrain from exporting to Brazil pesticides and mercury which are prohibited in your countries, but still destroy our lands.

Kretã Kaingang: “For our indigenous peoples, since the election of Lula, it is as if Brazil is coming back to life”