The 39th President of Brazil is taking over from far-right President Jair Bolsonaro whose policies were detrimental to Brazil’s environment and Indigenous territories. Ahead of his inauguration to office on January 1, Lula has announced the people who will be helping him in office.
As part of Brazil’s new government, Lula declared that two renowned Amazon protectors and defenders will be serving as ministers.
Marina Silva, 64, a former Brazilian Senator is an outspoken environmentalist and founded the Sustainability Network Party.
Silva will be entering office as environment minister once again which she previously held from 2003 to 2008.
During these years while she was environment minister, deforestation in Brazil was dramatically reduced.
However, much of the hard work from this period has since been undone by former President Bolsonaro.
Lula also announced that Sônia Guajajara, a Brazilian Indigenous activist and environmentalist will also be a minister in his Government.
The appointment of Guajajara is a landmark decision as she will be the first Indigenous minister.
Guajajara, 48, will lead the first Ministry for Indigenous peoples which was launched following a spate of violence and land invasions due to Bolsonaro’s actions while in office.
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According to Guajajara, the new ministry will represent Brazil’s 307 Indigenous groups and it demonstrates Lula’s commitment to protecting the environment and Indigenous communities who Bolsonaro left “threatened, weakened and vulnerable”.
Bolsonaro’s leadership saw the dismantling of a series of Indigenous and environmental protections including a number of governmental divisions dedicated to climate change.
Since the beginning of Bolsonaro’s leadership in 2019, there has been a 60 percent increase in deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.
As the former president refused to recognise any Indigenous Lands, violence increased with 1,576 land conflicts registered in 2020 with over 41 percent being related to Indigeonous communities.
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Guajajara said her appointment to lead a new division of government is “a landmark in our history of struggle and resistance”.
She added: “The creation of the ministry for Indigenous peoples is proof of President Lula’s commitment to safeguarding our autonomy and space to take decisions about our territories, our bodies and our ways of life.”
Silva spoke after the election of Lula and vowed that the government will build “a new democratic ecosystem” which will prioritise conservation, sustainability, and climate goals.