Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has promised Indigenous people that he would stop illegal mining on their reservations and recognise their land claims if he wins the presidential election in October.

Lula on Tuesday visited a protest camp in Brasilia where several thousand members of 200 Indigenous tribes have gathered to oppose plans by far-right President Jair Bolsonaro to allow commercial agriculture, mining and oil exploration on their lands.

“Everything this government has decreed against Indigenous peoples must be repealed immediately,” said Lula, who held the presidency for two terms from 2003 to 2010.

“Nobody did more for Indigenous people than our Workers’ Party governments, and now everything has been dismantled by this unscrupulous government,” Lula told a cheering crowd.

Illegal mining has soared in the Amazon as gold prices have surged in recent years and mining destroyed a record 125sq km (48sq miles) of the Brazilian Amazon last year, according to official figures.

Bolsonaro vowed in 2018 not to recognise a single centimetre of Indigenous reservation land, winning him the backing of Brazil’s powerful farm lobby.
“Lula, we are unprotected. Our rights are being trampled on,” said Joenia Wapichana, the country’s only Indigenous representative in Congress.

She said illegal occupations of protected Indigenous lands are being legalised and wildcat miners are invading reservations where they destroy forests and pollute rivers.

“Instead of being world leaders in deforestation, we want to be world champions in facing up to the climate crisis and in socio-environmental development,” Lula said. “That way we will have healthy food on our plates, clean air to breathe and water to drink and lots of quality jobs with green investment.”

Lula takes power on 1 January 2023 and will be charged with rebuilding and reuniting a nation that has been left damaged and bitterly divided


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