Thursday, February 2, 2023

Lula will try to reverse deforestation in the Amazon

RIO DE JANEIRO ( Associated Press) – Shaking a traditional rattle, Brazil’s new head of indigenous affairs recently toured every corner of the agency’s headquarters, including the coffee room, as he invoked the help of ancestors during a ritual cleansing did.

The ritual had additional meaning for Jônia Wapichana, Brazil’s first indigenous woman to lead the agency protecting the Amazon rainforest and its people. Wapichana has vowed to clean house on an agency that critics say has allowed Amazon resources to be exploited at the expense of the environment, after new President Luiz Inácio da Silva is sworn in next month under the administration. .

While Wapichana performed the ritual, the indigenous people and officials enthusiastically chanted “Yoohoo! Funai is ours!” a reference to the agency she would head.

Environmentalists, indigenous people and sympathetic voters were crucial to Lula’s narrow victory over former President Jair Bolsonaro. Now Lula is trying to fulfill election promises on a range of issues, from expanding indigenous territories to halting illegal deforestation.

To meet these goals, Lula is appointing well-known environmentalists and indigenous people to key positions in FANAI and other agencies, which Bolsonaro used to keep with agribusiness allies and military chiefs.

In his first two terms, Lula had a mixed record on environmental and indigenous issues. And he will surely face obstacles from pro-Bolsonaro state governors who still control swathes of the Amazon. But experts say Lula is taking the right first step.

Meanwhile, Bolsonaro’s supporters fear that Lula’s promise of stricter environmental protections will hurt the economy by reducing the amount of land open for development and punishing people for activities previously permitted. Some agribusinesses have been accused of providing financial and logistical support to the protesters, who stormed the presidential palace, Congress and the federal Supreme Court earlier this month.

When Bolsonaro was president, he outlawed FANAI and other agencies responsible for environmental oversight. This allowed deforestation to climb to its highest level since 2006, as developers and miners who took land from indigenous people faced little consequence.

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The Associated Press’s climate and environment coverage is supported by several private foundations. Associated Press is solely responsible for all content.

Nation World News Desk
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