Brazilian congress wants to eliminate environment and indigenous ministries, sparking outrage


There has been an outcry from Indigenous rights organizations and environmental campaigners in Brazil after congress moved to dissolve two ministries dedicated to protecting the environment and the rights of the country’s Indigenous people.

The far-right government of President Jair Bolsonaro has pushed for drastic changes in the Brazilian government, aiming to shrink it from 29 to 22 ministries. As part of its wide-ranging overhaul, plans have been drawn up to combine the existing environment and indigenous affairs departments into a single Ministry of the Environment.

The proposed changes, which can pass with approval from the lower house, have been widely condemned by Indigenous leaders in Brazil, who said the move would effectively wipe out hard-fought environmental protection laws and Indigenous rights. Indigenous activists also blasted the dissolution of their own ministry, saying it signaled the government was not taking their concerns seriously.

Environmentalists in Brazil and around the world have also expressed deep dismay over the proposed changes.They said the move would leave Brazil’s notoriously lax environmental regulations even worse off, allowing further deforestation and other violations against protected areas to occur unchecked.

In a joint statement, numerous Indigenous and environmental groups called for the “cancellation of these projects that put at risk the lives of the peoples and the environment of Brazil”.