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Indigenous tribes gather to protect the Amazon

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on January 15, 2020 - Duration: 01:55s

Indigenous tribes gather to protect the Amazon

Brazilian indigenous leaders began a four-day tribal gathering in the Amazon on Tuesday to plan their opposition to far-right President Jair Bolsonaro's push to open their reservations for commercial mining and agriculture.

Olivia Chan reports.

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Indigenous tribes gather to protect the Amazon

Leaders of Amazon tribes gathered this week to plan resistance to Brazil's far-right government.

Ritual dances and flashes of bird feathers kicked off a meeting to decide how to face Presdent Jair Bolsonaro's government.

Bolsonaro is pushing to open their reservations to commercial mining and farming.

And since he took office last year, illegal loggers and miners have stepped up invasions of protected tribal lands.

That's seen a spike in deforestation, fires and clashes on reservations.

The week's traibal meeting is hosted by Raoni Metuktire, a well-known chief from the Kayapo tribe.

(SOUNDBITE) (Kayapo) LEADER OF THE BRAZILIAN INDIGENOUS ETHNIC KAYAPO PEOPLE, RAONI METUKTIRE, SAYING: "White man named Bolsonaro, take advantage of your term because my fight is for an entire lifetime." Chief Raoni became famous as a symbol for the environment after touring the world with musician Sting in the 1980s.

Other leaders echoed his words.

(SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) LEADER OF THE BRAZILIAN INDIGENOUS ETHNIC KAYAPO PEOPLE, MEGARON TXUCARRAMÃE, SAYING: "The fight doesn't stop, the fight doesn't end.

As long as we're alive, we're going to fight to preserve our culture, (and) these beautiful customs that I saw here today." Bolsonaro has vowed to integrate Brazil's 900-thousand indigenous people into the economy while tapping the resources on their hundreds of reserves.

Environmentalists say- that could speed up clearing of the Amazon, the world's largest tropical rainforest and what they say is a bulwark against climate change.

A recent report in the O Globo newspaper said new draft legislation would open up reservations not only to mining but also oil and gas, hydroelectric dams and GMO crops banned by law on tribal lands.

The newspaper says tribes would not have the power to veto projects decided by officials.

Bolsonaro's government has declined to comment on the report.

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