In a remarkable move President Rouseff has stripped FUMAI, the government department responsible for the protection of indigenous people, of it autonomy.
Violence between farmers and indigenous tribes over land rights, in the southern state of Mato Grosso du Sol, has escalated since farmers were forcibly cleared off their land to allow the Xavante tribe to be reinstated on their traditional home land early in 2013.
To halt what the farmers see as bias towards indigenous tribes the farming lobby tabled a amendment that would establish a congressional committee to approve reservation boundaries rather than it resting on just the federal government. This incited hundreds of Indians to occupy the floor of the Lower House. FUMAI said that it defended the reasons for the protest but said it took no part in its organisation. Later in the month the farming lobby showed its outrage by jeering the president when she visited Mato Grosso du Sol.
Brazil has led the world in returning land to its indigenous tribes and at the same time its economy has been strengthened by the lucrative export of soya and bio fuels, setting up conflicting interests between the government agencies representing the farmers and Indians across the country.
On May the 8th almost within a week of her meeting with the Farming Lobby and commissioning a report that supported claims by the farmers , that FUMAI was over generous in its allocation of land. Rousseff instructed the government to refrain from approving new applications for Indian lands for the foreseeable future, and ordered that in future the agriculture and environment ministries will have input into deciding which lands to set aside for Indian reservations.
The move to constrain FUMAI is seen as signalling support for the farming lobby and fostering the confidence of foreign investors; further evidence that the president favours economic policy over humanitarian policy.