And on his first day on the job, Brazil's new leader Jair Bolsonaro goes straight to step seven on the Genocide Watch chart and begins singling out Brazil's indigenous, Afro-Brazilians, and the LGBTQ community for persecution.
Newly installed President Jair Bolsonaro issued executive orders targeting Brazil’s indigenous groups, descendants of slaves and the LGBT community in the first hours of his administration, moving quickly after a campaign in which the far-right leader said he would radically overhaul many aspects of life in Latin America’s largest nation.
One of the orders issued late Tuesday, hours after his inauguration, likely will make it all but impossible for new lands to be identified and demarcated for indigenous communities. Areas set aside for “Quilombolas,” as descendants of former slaves are known, are also affected by the decision.
Another order removed the concerns of the LGBT community from consideration by the new human rights ministry.
In a move favorable to his allies in agribusiness, which have criticized giving large swaths of lands to the indigenous, Bolsonaro transferred the responsibilities for delineating indigenous territories from the Justice Ministry to the Agriculture Ministry. The new agriculture minister, Tereza Cristina, is part of the agribusiness caucus in Brazil’s lower house and has opposed requests from native communities.
Bolsonaro, a former army captain and longtime congressman, said during his presidential campaign that he would stop making what he calls concessions to native Brazilians and quilombolas.
“Less than one million people live in those places isolated from the real Brazil,” Bolsonaro tweeted Wednesday. “They are explored and manipulated by nonprofits. Together we will integrate those citizens and give value to all Brazilians.”
The Justice Ministry previously handled demarcation of indigenous lands through the FUNAI agency, which also oversees other initiatives for indigenous communities such as health care, housing and language preservation. Bolsonaro’s order is raising uncertainties about FUNAI by shifting it to a new ministry for family, women and human rights that is headed by an ultraconservative evangelical pastor.
Observatorio do Clima, a network of 45 Brazilian civil society groups, said in a statement to The Associated Press that the executive orders “are only the first step on meeting Bolsonaro’s campaign promises of dismantling environmental governance, stripping indigenous peoples of their rights and opening up indigenous lands for business.”
“The attack on FUNAI goes beyond the wildest dreams of the rural caucus, who had tried for years to pass a constitutional amendment transferring the demarcation of indigenous lands from the president to Congress,” the nonprofit said. “Bolsonaro solved the problem by transferring them directly to farmers. Not even the military dictatorship, whose treatment of indigenous peoples was ghastly, went that far.”
So these groups are about to lose their rights and their lands, and the next step, history tells us, will be losing their lives. It's something Donald Trump will be paying very close attention to.