Brazil’s New President Hands Amazon Over to Agribusiness His First Day in Office

Bolsonaro signs order opening rainforest to agriculture and mining, telling tribal people to integrate or “disappear”

Brazil’s new President Jair Bolsonaro made good on his campaign promises to slash the rainforest to make way for agriculture and mining and to wipe out any tribal peoples standing in his way on Day 1.

Within hours of taking office he signed an executive order transferring control of indigenous land from the Ministry of the Environment to the Ministry of Agriculture, The Guardian reports.

The former was charged with protecting the rainforest and the last remnant of nomadic hunter-gatherers on earth who take refuge there, the latter is charged with literally destroying it.

Thirteen percent of Brazil’s land is reserved as indigenous territory. The indigenous people in those territories serve as the primary protectors of the rainforest, which the whole planet benefits from.

Bolsonaro and his agribusiness allies argue that there are more mouths to feed in the cities outside the rainforest, and that it’s not fair that such a small percentage of the country’s population gets such a “large” chunk of its land.

“Fewer than a million people live in those isolated areas of Brazil,  he wrote on Twitter. “Together, we’re going to integrate those citizens and take care of all Brazilians.”

Bolsonaro is on record saying “minorities will simply have to adapt or disappear” and comparing indigenous people living in the rainforest to “animals in a zoo.”

“There will be an increase in deforestation and violence against indigenous people,” said Dinaman Tuxá, the executive coordinator of the Articulation of Indigenous People of Brazil. “Indigenous people are defenders and protectors of the environment.”

During last year’s election campaign, Bolsonaro also promised to end demarcation of new indigenous lands, reduce the power of environmental agencies and free up mining and commercial farming on indigenous reserves.