Brazil’s Lula Tells US and EU to Keep Their Evil Eye Off the Amazon

Brazil's Lula greets Amazon Indians In a speech to thousands of Indians in the state of Amazonas, in northern Brazil, this Saturday, September 22, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva told them that the whole world looks at Brazil with envy and an evil eye.

"Instead of casting an evil eye on our forest, the developed world would better start planting the trees they destroyed for so many centuries," said the president to about 8,000 Indians from São Gabriel da Cachoeira, 530 miles from Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state.

São Gabriel da Cachoeira is a municipality with 35,000 people, 90% of which are indigenous people.

The Brazilian government is to spend US$ 270 million in the next three years creating new reservations for indigenous groups in the Amazon. Money will also be spent taking water and electricity to isolated groups.

Making the announcement, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said he wanted to redress the debt that the state owed to its Indian communities. Indians represent less than 0.5% of Brazil's population and live scattered throughout the vast Amazon rainforest.

According to the most recent census, Brazil has an indigenous population of around 730,000 Indians belonging to more than 200 different ethnic groups.

Altogether they speak around 180 languages. Many live in the hundreds of reservations which already cover more than 12% of the country.

These communities are now to benefit from a significant injection of funds. More than US$ 270 million will be spent over the next three years setting the boundaries of 127 indigenous territories. The money will also help to compensate and resettle families of 9,000 rural workers occupying those lands.

Lula said if private companies were not prepared to carry out the work, it would be done by military engineering units.

The head of Funai, the government agency charged with defending Indian rights, welcomed the investment.

The promotion of indigenous people is very important, said Márcio Meira, because they are a part of Brazilian society that has a very symbolic value.

Among the new proposals is a plan to document 20 indigenous languages threatened with extinction.

Mr Meira said researchers from the indigenous community would be used to help create a dictionary of the language, which he acknowledged was the basis of all Brazilian culture.

Bzz/Mercopress

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