President Jair Bolsonaro (no party) said on Thursday (16) that he should defend, in his speech at the UN General Assembly (United Nations), next week, the 1988 time frame for the demarcation of indigenous lands —measure being analyzed by the STF (Supreme Federal Court) and criticized by environmentalists and indigenous leaders.
The promise should frustrate the moderate wing of the government, which planned to use the stage of the UN meeting, where the Brazilian will make the opening speech, on the 21st, to try to reduce the strain on the areas of environment and human rights.
“What should I say there [na ONU]? Something along these lines: if the timeframe is overturned [pelo STF], if we have to demarcate new indigenous lands —today we have approximately 13% of the national territory demarcated as already consolidated indigenous land—, if a new timeframe has to be taken into account, this area will double,” stated the president, on his weekly live.
“We expect the STF to maintain this time frame back in 1988. For the good of Brazil and for the good of the world as well. There are people out there pressing for a new time frame, to demarcate another area equivalent to that of Germany and Spain. There will be reflection abroad too.”
The president also said that overturning the time frame “is a danger” and repeated that it would be a “risk for food security in Brazil” and in the world, without clarifying the reasons for these arguments.
Last Wednesday (15), the minister Alexandre de Moras, from the STF, asked for views at the trial, which had a score of 1 to 1 so far. If Bolsonaro’s thesis of establishing a time frame prevails in court, the process of demarcating indigenous lands in the country tends to be slowed down.
According to this understanding, indigenous peoples only have the right to the land they occupy if they were there before the promulgation of the Constitution, on September 5, 1988. The thesis is defended by ruralists and by the agribusiness bench in Congress.
Bolsonaro’s statement at the UN is being drafted jointly by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Planalto Palace — which will have the final word and may change the content of the text or parts of it. The expectation of the more moderate wing of the government, especially in Itamaraty, was that the president would give up an aggressive speech and avoid themes that tend to deepen international criticism of the government.
The speech is seen by diplomats and military personnel as an important international stage to try to reduce pressure on Brazil on issues such as preserving the Amazon and the rights of indigenous communities.
Bolsonaro’s portrait as a leader uncommitted to protection of the biome and hostile to traditional communities, together with the advance of deforestation in the Amazon, is considered by diplomatic advisors as one of the main obstacles for the country on the foreign agenda.
Even with the inclusion of the defense of the time frame, the expectation of this more pragmatic group is that, in the environmental plan, the axis of the pronouncement will be the reaffirmation of commitments made at the Climate Summit in April.
At the meeting, led by US President Joe Biden, Bolsonaro promised to end illegal deforestation in Brazil by 2030 and anticipated the goal for the country to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 — the previous deadline was 2060.
in front of a skeptical environment among foreign partners, the current challenge, according to auxiliaries, is to show that the promises will be fulfilled. For this, the president was advised to highlight the budget reinforcement made at IBAMA and at ICMBio, environmental agencies that fight against environmental offenses.
The expectation is that he will also remember in his speech the recent hiring of firefighters and the successive renewals of GLO (Guarantee of Law and Order) in the Amazon.
The revamped rhetoric that the Itamaraty, now commanded by Minister Carlos França, wants to succeed also seeks to refute the image of Brazil as heating villain global. The idea is to point out that the rise in temperatures is something global, that it does not depend only on deforestation in the Amazon.
Advisers are working so that Bolsonaro emphasizes that the phenomenon is caused by other factors, such as the dependence that some countries have on coal and fossil fuels. They warn, however, that the president needs to emphasize that Brazil intends to play its part in the fight against deforestation.
According to an interlocutor in the government, deforestation in the biome — that again has set records in 2021— became the great Achilles’ heel for Brazil in international negotiations.
Even positive data for the country, as a cleaner energy matrix than that of other countries, end up overshadowed by the sequence of bad indicators related to the reduction of vegetation cover in the Amazon. THE current water crisis, which forces the growing use of thermoelectric plants, does not collaborate either.
Another hot topic involving Brazilians is the issue of vaccination against Covid. On Wednesday, the delegations that go to the General Assembly received a letter saying that the city of New York, where the UN headquarters is located, would require proof of immunization for anyone who would access the UN premises and the plenary.
The organisation’s secretary general, António Guterres, however, said he could not make this charge. In any case, as Bolsonaro says he did not get vaccinated, his presence would tend to create an additional embarrassment.
The idea of the pragmatic wing of the government is to try, as much as possible, to mark differences from Bolsonaro’s previous speeches at the UN.
In 2019, in his debut at the summit, the Brazilian complained of “sensational attacks” fired by “large part of the international media” because of the wave of fires in the Amazon that year.
“Using these fallacies, one or another country, instead of helping, embarked on the lies of the media and behaved in a disrespectful way, with a colonialist spirit,” he said, at the time, in New York.
Last year, in a virtual participation in the General Assembly, Bolsonaro returned to the theme to affirm that Brazil was “the victim of one of the most brutal disinformation campaigns about the Amazon and the Pantanal”.
The president said that “international institutions” are participating in a “campaign based on hidden interests” with the objective of “harming the government and Brazil itself.”
“Brazil is emerging as the largest food producer in the world and, therefore, there is so much interest in spreading misinformation about our environment.”