Opinion: Brazilian government must do more to save native tribes’ homes


"Matses" by krzysztof maniocha is licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0

Native tribe living in the Amazon. Bolsonaro and the rest of the Brazilian government need to stop with their anti-indigenous actions and protect these native people’s lands. It is time that their pleads for justice are finally heard.

Earlier this week, thousands of people on social media caused an uproar after discovering that the Amazon Rainforest has had approximately 9,500 fires burning for nearly the past month

These “lungs of the world” are not only home to thousands of plants and animals, but also to many native tribes whose communities are now in tremendous danger of being ruined — and the Brazilian government is doing nothing to stop it. 

Seeing people realize the disastrous effects that can come from the continuous deforestation of a source that provides 20% of the world’s oxygen is somewhat relieving, but more people need to take notice of the injustice that these Indigenous communities are facing. 

It is not uncommon to hear about governments ignoring the voices of indigenous leaders and groups in order to continue with their capitalistic and money-hungry corporations. Brazilian far-right President Jairo Bolsonaro is doing exactly that with indigenous tribes who have been occupying the Amazon rainforest for hundreds of years. 

[Bolsonaro’s] insults range from calling indigenous tribes who live in lands protected by the government “zoo animals” to saying it was a shame that they weren’t exterminated. 

— Op-ed Editor Victoria Sponar

Bolsonaro has taken a step further from turning a blind eye toward these Indigenous communities and is going as far as publically mistreating and completely disrespecting them throughout his entire presidency. His insults range from calling indigenous tribes who live in lands protected by the government “zoo animals” to saying it was a shame that they weren’t exterminated

The disrespect does not stop there. Bolsonaro’s government has been constantly cutting back on environmental protections that shield Indigenous lands situated in the Amazon from agricultural industries such as logging and cattle ranching. Ricupero, a former ambassador to the United States and former Brazil’s finance minister, has exposed Bolsonaro for having “the same mentality as the military rulers in the 1970s: that the Amazon should be colonized and become soy plantations and cattle ranches.” 

Time and time again, Bolsonaro has proven that he stands behind these industries that are constantly demanding more and more deforestation of the Amazon. Zoe Sullivan, a writer for Time Magazine, exposed Bolsonaro’s anti-environmentalist actions, saying he has been “slashing government budgets for the environment and dismantling support for indigenous and traditional subsistence communities.”

What do these industries’ and Bolsonaro’s viewpoints on the rainforest have to do with the fires happening all across the Amazon? Meteorologists and nonprofit organizations such as Amazon Watch have both declared that these rainforest fires have been “definitely human-induced.” So, what kind of humans would intentionally set such an important natural area ablaze? 

No other than those same cattle ranchers and loggers. These farmers are doing everything they can to clear as much of the Amazon as possible in order to obtain more land for their businesses, and setting fire to many areas of the rainforest is what they have now chosen to do. 

For three weeks, native tribes have been fearing for their lives as they watched their homes — what is supposed to be land protected by the government — be swallowed by flames with Bolsonaro doing nearly nothing to stop it. He has rejected millions of dollars of aid from countries such as France and has been seen at comedy clubs instead of in office trying to diminish the fires. 

This attitude of unwillingness to help such a colossal issue proves that Bolsonaro is not only an anti-environmentalist, but also an anti-indigenous, power-hungry minister who does not have the humanity to continue to protect these native lands and save the indigenous Amazonians from an extremely disastrous loss for them. 

The news of these ongoing fires has thankfully gone global, and people are now beginning to take notice of Bolsonaro’s blatant reluctance to preserve the Amazon. These same people need to also realize that these fires are directly harming Indigenous people, and we must do everything in our power to fight for their rights that are being cruelly stripped away from them.

Opinions expressed in editorials are those of the writer(s).  These views may not represent the adviser, The Prowler, advertisers/sponsors, the Starr’s Mill High School administration or staff , or Fayette County Public Schools as a whole.  Please see our FAQs for more information pertaining to the rights of The Prowler’s staff members.