Brazil’s new government is backing an indigenous tribe that was fined under the previous administration for commercial farming practices banned on tribal land, saying they are an example to be followed as it pushes to open reservations to agriculture.
The Parecis in western Mato Grosso state had partnered with local farmers to produce soy and were using genetically modified crops (GMO), both practices that are banned on reservation land. Environmental authority Ibama slapped the Parecis and the farmers with an unprecedented fine of 129 million reais ($34.72 million) [in 2018]
But since far-right firebrand Jair Bolsonaro took office on Jan. 1, government officials have come out overwhelmingly in favor of the Parecis and allowing mechanized agriculture on indigenous land.
Nabhan Garcia, vice minister of land affairs at the Agriculture Ministry, praised the Parecis and said he would participate in the ceremony marking the beginning of their harvest next week.
“We’re in favor of the Indian learning to farm,” Garcia told Reuters in an interview.
“If he wants to lease the land, partner or plant it himself, it’s his right. What’s the problem? Quite the opposite, the day that the Indian starts to farm and to have his own income, it will be much better.”
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