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17 Jun 2019

Al Jazeera

Brazil: Head of indigenous affairs fired in apparent bid to open up the Amazon to agribusiness and mining

“Brazil indigenous affairs head fired amid push to develop Amazon”, 12th June 2019

…The head of Brazil's indigenous affairs agency said he was fired after being pressured as President Jair Bolsonaro pushes to open up reservation lands to commercial activity. Franklimberg Ribeiro de Freitas, head of the National Indigenous Affairs agency (FUNAI), was removed from the post by the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights, it confirmed. Under a decree signed by Bolsonaro after he came to office in January, the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights oversees FUNAI. It is headed by an evangelical pastor who wants to Christianise indigenous people…De Freitas, who had an earlier stint running FUNAI under Brazil's previous government before being fired in April 2018 amid pressure from a powerful agribusiness lobby, also said Bolsonaro was "very poorly advised"…In May, Brazil's lower house of Congress rebuffed Bolsonaro's move to put decisions on indigenous land claims in the hands of the Ministry of Agriculture, opting to keep them with FUNAI instead. Bolsonaro, a far-right firebrand, has alarmed anthropologists and environmentalists by planning to assimilate Brazil's 800,000 indigenous people - less than 1 percent of the country's population - into Brazilian society, and open reservation land to commercial agriculture and mining, even in the Amazon rainforest…