'On Jair Bolsonaro’s 100th day in office, an international coalition of NGOs – including a group representing more than 300 Brazilian indigenous groups – have called for the European Union (EU) to end its complicity in the assault on indigenous rights and the destruction of the Amazon.
Since President Bolsonaro became leader of the world’s “fourth largest democracy” on January 1, his government has dismantled environmental protections, incursions by armed invaders on Indigenous Peoples’ lands have surged, and deforestation rates in the Amazon have risen.
The EU provides a huge market for Brazilian soy and beef, which drive deforestation and human rights abuses in Brazil on a vast scale. The EU is also Brazil’s second largest trading partner, and together its Member States are Brazil’s largest source of foreign direct investment.
The coalition is calling for tough new EU laws guaranteeing that products sold in the EU do not cause deforestation and human rights abuses in Brazil.
“The EU already has laws to stop illegally logged wood, illegally sourced fish and conflict minerals entering its markets. The unfolding destruction in Brazil shows the glaring need for similar laws for agricultural goods,” said Nicole Polsterer, Forests and Consumption campaigner at Fern, the forests and rights NGO.
“The EU must clean up its [agricultural] supply chains, make them transparent, and use its enormous economic leverage to reduce the threat Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples face,” she added.
Sônia Guajajara, coordinator of Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (APIB ) which represents more than 300 Brazilian indigenous groups, reinforced this call for EU action.
“The first 100 days of Bolsonaro’s presidency are the latest chapter in a long war of attrition against Brazil’s Indigenous People. The crimes that are being committed today are happening in the name of agricultural production. The EU must not evade its responsibility for this,” Guajajara said.
“The EU must use its consumer power to ensure our rights are protected and our forests are preserved,” she added.
The international call for EU action coincides with the release of a new Fern briefing, 100 Days of Bolsonaro, Ending the EU’s role in the assault on the Amazon, which details the dizzying speed at which environmental laws have been eroded, and land grabs and attacks on indigenous communities have accelerated in the first three months of Bolsonaro’s presidency. In January 2019, deforestation in the Amazon reportedly rose by 54 per cent compared to the same month in 2018.'
Read more: International Coalition Calls for the EU to End Its Role in the Assault on the Amazon