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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

House Dems ask Biden to pressure Bolsonaro over the killings of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira

A group of 23 House Democrats sent a letter to the Biden administration on Tuesday morning calling for increased pressure on Brazil and its right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro in the wake of the high-profile killings of a journalist and an indigenous affairs expert. the Amazon rainforest.

British journalist Dom Phillips and Bruno Araujo Pereira, a former top official of Brazil’s main indigenous agency, went missing on June 5 in Valle do Javari, a vast region of the Amazon near Brazil’s borders with Peru and Colombia. Phillips was working on a book about sustainable development in the Amazon, and Pereira was an ardent defender of indigenous rights and the environment that had faced threats in the past. His death was confirmed nearly two weeks later, and police have arrested several suspects linked to illegal fishing interests in the area.

The tragedy drew global attention to rising violence in the Amazon, where a land dispute between indigenous tribes and illegal miners, fishermen and loggers has exploded since Bolsonaro took office in 2019. They began to withdraw protection for the forest and tribal lands within it, and some of the leaders of the area engaged in Call A “Comprehensive and Comprehensive Anti-Indigenous Project.”

Indigenous leaders of the Valle do Javari are now calling for a deeper investigation into the killings and greater accountability for Bolsonaro, and has sought to build global support for his cause in the United States and Europe.

The letter, prepared by Reps Susan Wilde (D-Pa.) and Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, calls on the Biden administration to publicly conduct a “fair, thorough investigation” of Brazil. urges. Among the criminal organizations that may have been behind the killings, which indigenous leaders and human rights groups argue resulted in “carte blanche” Bolsonaro provided illegal interests to exploit the forest and target his tribes.

Lawmakers also called on the administration to send a delegation to Brazil to meet indigenous leaders, a demand the tribes have made since the White House began involving Bolsonaro in climate and environmental talks last year.

The meetings, lawmakers said, will allow Biden officials to understand how the administration can support indigenous tribes and “devise a US policy agenda to address their concerns.” The letter said the US should work closely with international organizations to “monitor and respond” to human rights violations in the Amazon.

“This human-scale tragedy is a symptom of a widespread attack on the Amazon rainforest, pushing the vast ecosystem to an ecological tipping point,” the lawmakers wrote. “The Brazilian Amazon has an impunity watchdog for the murders, and for the future of the Amazon this case cannot simply be erased in memory.”

The list of signatories includes Progressive Representatives. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D.N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ilhan Omar (D-Min.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Barbara Lee (D-Cal.) Amazonwatch and Greenpeace , two environmental groups that operate in Brazil, helped organize the letter. A copy of the letter and a full list of signatories are below.

“President Biden and Secretary Blinken must make full use of American diplomacy to demonstrate our commitment to human rights for all people, to hold perpetrators of human rights violations responsible and to protect our planet’s natural resources that are reeling from the climate crisis.” are very important to fight.”

– Rape. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.)

It is the latest result of a campaign to generate more international pressure on Brazil due to the killings and the widespread environmental crisis. The EU parliament approved a resolution this month calling on the Brazilian government to launch an independent investigation into the killings and do more to protect human rights within the Amazon.

“The Biden administration should demand an independent investigation into the killings of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira,” Grijalva said. “His death follows unusual circumstances as he sought to uncover the truth behind the exploitation of the Amazon and attacks on its indigenous people.”

“For too long, the Bolsonaro regime has undermined environmental and indigenous security for corporate profit,” he continued. “President Biden and Secretary Blinken must make full use of American diplomacy to demonstrate our commitment to human rights for all people, to hold perpetrators of human rights violations responsible and to protect our planet’s natural resources that are reeling from the climate crisis.” are very important to fight.”

Alicio Marubo, an advocate for Univaza, a coalition of tribes of the Valle do Javari, traveled to Washington last week to create greater international awareness of the current threats facing the Amazon and its tribes. He also sought to explore potential “tools” that could be used to hold Brazil accountable globally. Two indigenous leaders sued Bolsonaro at the International Criminal Court last year, alleging that his treatment of indigenous peoples constitutes a crime against humanity. Marubo said the matter was still pending and Univaza was considering additional legal claims against Bolsonaro.

“We hold the Bolsonaro administration responsible for those crimes, and it’s not just discourse,” Marubo said in an interview. “It’s an analysis of reality. It’s an analysis of the facts we have.”

Marubo met with Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Jared Huffman (D-Cal.). Marubo said the two lawmakers signed the letter, which along with the EU proposal and recent warnings from US officials for Brazil’s electoral system to be “a strong signal to the Brazilian government that it has consequences.” can”, Marubo said.

Marubo argued that the human rights violations Bolsonaro has allowed could warrant more “concrete measures” from the US in response.

“The support of the people of the US Congress through this letter is vital so that we can continue to pressure the Brazilian government to defend the Javari Valley,” Marubo said. “President Joe Biden said that protecting the Amazon will guide his administration’s environmental policy, so we hope this letter will lead to concrete measures in protecting the forest and its people.”

A longtime climate skeptic and opponent of aggressive protections for the environment and tribal lands, Bolsonaro has targeted the Amazon for much of his presidency. They have curbed both the rules and government agencies designed to protect forest and indigenous areas. They have approached the Amazon as a source of economic growth, and have effectively given the green light to illegal miners, fishermen, farmers and other illegal interests to enter the wilderness at will. His colleagues in Brazil’s Congress have this year called for the opening of Aboriginal lands to mining, against the wishes of several indigenous leaders.

The rate of deforestation has reached record levels under Bolsonaro. Illegal invasions of Aboriginal lands have also skyrocketed, often resulting in violent conflicts that have led to a massive increase in the number of killings of indigenous leaders and environmental activists.

The Brazilian government’s response to the disappearances of Phillips and Pereira caused outrage at home and abroad. Bolsonaro dismissed the tragedy as a result of a mindless “adventure” in the Amazon, despite the fact that Phillips was a seasoned reporter and Pereira was an expert in the field. Univaza, which warned government agencies that illegal actors were threatening tribal lands in Valle do Javari months before the killings, also criticized the government’s initial search and rescue mission as slow and inadequate.

Bolsonaro’s approach to the Amazon had generated significant global backlash before Phillips and Pereira were killed. The European Union has sought pledges to increase Amazon protection as part of a potential trade deal with a group of South American countries, including Brazil, while Germany and Norway have halted payments to the Amazon Fund, a fund for forest conservation. There is an international funding mechanism for Record fire outbreaks in the region in 2019

Biden joined Brazil last year in a series of high-level talks on new climate change goals and environmental protection. They have attempted to create a financial aid package that would encourage Brazil to protect the forest from further destruction.

However, Indigenous leaders and environmentalists warned the White House and former Secretary of State John Kerry, who led the talks as Biden’s special climate envoy, over-repeated on Bolsonaro’s pledges as a result of repeated, repeated discussions. not to do. And he portrayed the new commitments as cosmetic changes that would have little benefit to the forest, the climate, or indigenous peoples.

Two days after Phillips and Pereira went missing, Brazilian indigenous activist Sonia Guajara urged Kerry to pressure Bolsonaro and Brazil into their disappearance during an event in New York City. Kerry promised to take action on the matter.

Biden praised Brazil for making “some real sacrifices as a country, the way you’ve tried to protect Amazon” during his first meeting with Bolsonaro at a US summit last month, which It happened four days after Phillips and Pereira had their first time together. reported missing. According to the transcript of the White House meeting, they did not discuss the disappearance.

Marubo said there would be disastrous consequences for the indigenous peoples of the Amazon and Brazil if Bolsonaro continues on the current path.

“Continuing down this path results in the worst possible outcome, but even if things continue to escalate, our leadership will stand up and fight back,” he said. “We understand that we are in the trenches of the last defense of the forest.”

World Nation News Desk
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