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BRAZIL: Lula designates six indigenous areas

PRESIDENT Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva officially recognized six Indigenous reservations Friday, reversing the policies of his far-right predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, who opened the land to farming and other industries.

Lula signed the official decrees on the final day of a five-day gathering of Indigenous people from around the country — known as The Free Land Camp — in the capital Brasilia.

Designating the land fulfills a campaign promise he made to stop the deforestation of the land — much of it in the Amazon basin that occurred under Bolsonaro. The former president, aligned with farming and logging industries, had pledged not to cede “one more centimeter” of land to the Indigenous people.

The scientific journal Nature reports that, under Bolsonaro, deforestation increased by 129% inside Brazil’s Amazon “biome,” or biological community.

Scientists consider the Amazon rainforest a crucial buffer against climate change, as the vast rainforests absorb a significant amount of carbon dioxide each year. Two of the six reservations designated Friday are in the Amazon, covering about 161,500 hectares.

Two other reserves are in the country’s northeast, one in the south, and one in central Brazil. The land remains under the federal government’s jurisdiction, but the designation grants Indigenous people the right to use it in their traditional manner.

On his first day in office in January, the president created a Ministry of Indigenous People, the first in Brazil’s history.

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Naija Times