Rousseff delivers a stinging blow to Indigenous tribes

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.

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