The Catholic Bishops of Brazil (CNBB) have strongly criticized the federal government for trying to rush through two bills they say are "an attack aimed at appropriating indigenous territories.."
"While the world is closely watching the war unfolding in Europe, government parliamentarians want to examine these proposals as a matter of urgency," they said.
The CNBB, in particular the Special Episcopal Commission for Integral Ecology and Mining, the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network REPAM-Brazil and the Missionary Indigenous Council (CIMI) have signed the message in which they express their disagreement with the Bills no 490/2007, which hinders the demarcation of indigenous lands, and no 191/2020, which regulates mining on indigenous lands.
They said: "This is a call to all Christians to protect life, indigenous peoples and forests. We do not accept the legalization of the pollution of rivers and towns with mercury, the destruction of streams, the opening of new fronts for deforestation in the Amazon and the genocide of the peoples."
The text of the Brazilian bishops and ecclesial bodies recalls that "in the last two years, the Brazilian Parliament has tried to allow mining in indigenous territories, through bills 490/2007 and 191/2020, which became priorities announced by the Federal Government, through ordinance no. 667, of February 9, 2022". The first project "allows mining exploration, tourism, agribusiness and creates the temporary framework", while the second "proposes permission for the investigation and exploitation of mineral and hydrocarbon resources, as well as the use of water resources to produce electricity on indigenous lands and establishes compensation for the restriction of the usufruct of indigenous lands".
The Bishops point out that at this time when the world is distracted by the war in Europe, Parliament has decided to examine these measures as a matter of urgency.
"Without discussion with the whole of Brazilian society, the true social, environmental and labor disaster that has been recurring in mineral extractive companies is hidden, aggravating conflicts with indigenous peoples". "Life comes first, before any type of argument in favour of economic development" they reiterate in the conclusion of the message, recalling that "for any initiative, a broad and non-exclusionary debate is necessary with the entire Brazilian society, in particular with the indigenous peoples, who, well informed, need to decide on the uses of the territory, respecting their rights already enshrined in the Constitution and in the International Agreements and Conventions to which Brazil is a signatory."
CNBB - www.cnbb.org.br/