Bolsonaro ready to legalize mining on indigenous land

Bolsonaro ready to legalize mining on indigenous land

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro. (Reuters photo)

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro said on Thursday his government was preparing to legalize mining on indigenous land and defended plans to expand farming in the same areas.

Opening up protected native territory was a key campaign pledge for the right-wing leader but activists blame economic activity for an uptick in violence and increased pressure from miners and loggers.

"Why can you, being white, mine on your land when the Indians can't?" Bolsonaro said as he left his official residence in Brasilia, without revealing when the reform would be presented to parliament.

Bolsonaro also defended moves to expand livestock farming and soya and corn plantations on indigenous land, much of which is in the Amazon rainforest.

"The price of meat is rising. We need to raise more livestock here," he said.

Bolsonaro has long railed against the protected indigenous areas in the Amazon that he says are a threat to the country's sovereignty.

He claims other countries are encouraging the expansion of protected areas in a bid to take over Brazilian land.

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon surged by 104 percent in November compared to the same period in 2018, according to official data published last week.

Since Bolsonaro came to power in January, there has been almost twice as much deforestation as last year in the Amazon, according to Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE.)

Last month, Amnesty International called on Bolsonaro to curb illegal cattle farms in the Amazon, claiming they pose "a very real threat, not only to the human rights of indigenous and traditional peoples who live there, but also to the entire planet's ecosystem."

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