“The colonizing interests which spread and exercise – legally and illegally – the extraction of timber and the mineral industry, and who chased and surrounded the indigenous riparian peoples and of African origin, provoking a clamor in the sky » (1). A frontal and organized attack is at work against the indigenous peoples, the traditional communities of the Amazon, the integrity of the Amazon rainforest, the water security of all Brazilians and the stability of the planetary climate system , on which all of us, as a society and as a species, depend. Over the past two years, the Amazon rainforest has been handed over by the federal government to land clearers, arsonists and garimpeiros, these clandestine seekers for gold or precious stones. (2). The first effect of this incitement to crime is clear: there has been a jump in clear deforestation, from 7,536 km2 in 2018 to 13,235 km2 between August 2020 and July 2021 (the historical average of the last ten was 6 493 km2). On the other hand, arson is spreading like never before, and on November 30, 2021, the Amazon biome was accumulating 73,494 fires lit. (3). It is estimated that these fires have affected, during this start of the 21st century alone, nearly 95% of the species of vertebrate plants and animals known in the Amazon, a biome which contains about 10% of the planet’s biodiversity; they have already affected the habitat of 85% of endangered plant and vertebrate species in the region (4).
Pope Francis reminds us, in his post-synodal exhortation on the Amazon, that this one is not “an enormous void which must be filled” nor “ua vast expanse of wilderness that needs to be tamed » (5).
However, instead of decreasing, the attacks on the Amazon keep intensifying! One of the fronts of this lightning war is held by the garimpeiros, these gold and ore hunters, whose clandestine activity holds a central place on the government agenda. Linked to drug trafficking and financed by unidentified groups, they invade communities, kill and terrorize indigenous populations, destroy forests, pollute rivers and seriously poison organisms with mercury. Human rights and social and environmental protection, the democratic achievements of Brazilians are constantly undermined. Thus, once again seriously flouted by the prior consent granted to seven gold and ore exploration projects by General Augusto Heleno, Minister of the Institutional Security Cabinet (GSI) and Executive Secretary of the National Defense Council of the Presidency of the Republic, which includes ministers of state and the three commanders of the armed forces (6). Such authorizations frequently respond to requests from politicians and owners of mining operations that destroy life and pollute the waters of the various rivers and rivers of the Amazon, such as, recently, those of the Rio Madeira, using dredges. suction. The areas threatened today cover more than 127,000 hectares and at least two of them are indigenous territories. All are located in São Gabriel da Cachoeira, in the northwest of the Amazon state; one of the most preserved regions of this state which is home to 23 indigenous ethnic groups, including the Baniwa, the Wanano, the Tikano and the Yanomâmi. It is a frontal attack on the rights of the natives, enshrined in the Constitution of 1988, and beyond, a symbolic attack, because São Gabriel da Cachoeira is the region with the highest density of indigenous population of the country.
The Parakanã ethnic group (7) is another victim of this war supported directly or indirectly against the natives by the federal government. The leaders of this group have sent two official letters to the Federal Supreme Court, in which they say they accept the “proposal” to give up, in favor of three associations of farmers, 392,000 hectares, or more than half of the indigenous territory. Apyterewa (State of Para), notwithstanding its demarcation and homologation by the federal government since 2007 (Parakanã program, PA 1576). In practice, this territory no longer belongs to the natives, since it was invaded with impunity by the destroyers of the forest, supported by local politicians and by the prefecture of São Felix do Xingu. (8).
The natives, the forest peoples in general, the forest itself and therefore, the peoples of South America as a whole, are in the sights of further pressures and attacks from the squatters, the underground researchers, large mining groups and, above all, agribusiness strongly driven by the National Congress. Thus, three bills, currently being processed in Congress, aim to complete the dismantling of legislation protecting the country’s ethnic, cultural and natural heritage. The first (PL 191/2020) is at the initiative of the executive power. It amends § 1 of art. 176 and § 3 of art. 231 of the Constitution, aiming, ultimately, at the liberalization of mining, oil and gas as well as the construction of hydroelectric factories on lands belonging to the natives. Not only was this bill presented without prior consultation of the populations concerned, but it was considered unconstitutional by the 6th coordination and review chamber of the Public Prosecutor’s Office; despite this, he continues to be dealt with by the National Congress.
The second bill (PL 2159/21) proposes the “flexibility” of the environmental authorization. This term of “flexibility” should be understood to mean the unrestricted and automatic liberalization of all projects not considered to have “a significant impact on the environment”, which would benefit from “authorization by adherence to commitments. »Simply self-declarative.
The third bill (PL 510/21) targets the said land regularization. Not only does it amnesties the illegal depredations and invasions of land operated until 2014, but it paves the way for the occupation of 37 million hectares, of which 24 million are forests located on Union lands. (9). However, this bill interacts with another bill (PL 4843/2019) already approved by the Senate, and will allow its application to the “66 million hectares occupied by farms resulting from the agrarian reform in the States of the ‘Legal Amazonia’ (10) : titles will de facto devolve on medium and large companies, and withdrawn from small producers in these areas (11).
It is in harmony with its peoples and in solidarity with their clamor that the Episcopal Commission for the Amazon, the Commission for Integral Ecology and Mining of the CNBB, the Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network, Repam-Brasil act in the Amazon. (12), the Indigenous Missionary Council (Cimi) and the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT).
We recall several words at the end of this message. Those of Chief Caiapo Raoni Metuktire: “If they devastate the whole forest, the weather will change, the sun will burn much more, the winds will become very strong. I am concerned with everyone, because it is the forest that holds and secures the world ” (13). Those of Sister Dorothy Stang, who died in Anapu (Para): “The death of the forest is the end of our life”. And those of Pope Francis, who affirms that the indigenous peoples, in particular the most excluded, “are the main interlocutors, from whom we must first learn, whom we must listen to out of duty of justice, and to whom we must ask for their opinion. to be able to present our proposals ”.
French translation by Michèle Jarton for La DC. Title of The DC. The signatories of the text:
Dom Sebastião Lima Duarte, president of the Commission for Integral Ecology and Mining; Cardinal Claudio Hummes, president of the Episcopal Commission for the Amazon; Dom Erwin Kräutler, President of REPAM-Brasil; Dom Roque Paloschi, president of the Indigenous Missionary Council, CIMI; Dom José Ionilton Lisboa de Oliveira, President of the Pastoral Land Commission, the CPT; Daniel Seitel, Executive Secretary of the Brazilian Commission for Justice and Peace. (1) Pope Francis, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Querida Amazonia, February 2, 2020, n. 9
; DC 2020, n. 2538, p. 34-35.
(2) Garimpo is mining characterized by a low level of mechanization, no or almost no permanent and often clandestine infrastructure. Editor’s note.
(3) cf. Cristiane Prizibisczky, “The Amazon counted 73,000 fires in 2021”, according to data from the INPE, the National Institute for Space Research ((o)) eco, February 1, 2021.
(4) cf. Samuel Fernandes, “The fires in the Amazon impact 90% of animal and plant species in the forest”, Folha de São Paulo, September 1, 2021. (5) Pope Francis, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Querida Amazonia, February 2, 2020, n. 12
; DC 2020, n. 2538, p. 35.
(6) cf. Vinicius Sassine, “General Heleno authorizes the advance of illegal or artisanal gold panning in the preserved regions of the Amazon”, Folha de São Paulo, December 5, 2021.
(7) The Parakanã people number only a thousand people in the region between the Pacajà and Tocantins rios (State of Para). They speak a Tupi-Guarani language. Editor’s note.
(8) cf. Rubens Valente, “Indigenous chiefs give in to invasion and agree to surrender 392,000 hectares in Para”, UOL, December 2, 2021.
(9) Union lands are federal public lands managed by the central power. Editor’s note.
(10) The Legal Amazon is the largest socio-geographic division of Brazil, made up of the nine states of the Amazon basin, or 61% of the Brazilian territory, covering more than 5 million km2. Editor’s note.
(11) cf. Duda Menegassi, “Bill 510 will pave the way for the occupation of 24 million hectares of public forests”, ((o)) eco, May 4, 2021.
(12) Project from the nine Churches of the Amazon region, inspired by Pope Francis and supported by Celam; Caritas is a member. Editor’s note.
(13) cf. Nicole Oliveira, “Cacique Raoni: ‘It is the forest that holds the world. If they destroy everything, it is not only the Indian who will suffer’.” Arayara.org