Murders ‘bury’ Bolsonaro’s plans abroad and deepen crisis – 06/16/2022

The murder of an indigenist and a journalist opened up an “unprecedented” image crisis for Brazil, which was already the target of questions, criticism and international concerns. For experienced diplomats heard by the column, the confirmation of the deaths of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips deepens a malaise and can “bury” any attempt to insert the government of Jair Bolsonaro abroad.

The column found that, from now on, there will be intense pressure on Brazilian authorities to carry out an impartial and independent investigation into the deaths, with the British government, the UN and international entities demanding such acts.

Within the Itamaraty, the order in recent days was to pass on information to international agencies and foreign governments that the government was committed to the search for the two men. But, lacking credibility for years of denialist discourse, Brazil’s word was met with disdain.

According to former ambassadors, the case at this moment could have a greater impact than that of Chico Mendes or Dorothy Stang, both murders for their work in the forest. Today, they say, the Amazon is at the center of international debate and never, in the period of democracy, was the Brazilian government so criticized abroad as it is now.

The case could also have economic and commercial impacts. Last year, the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund – in Norway – reduced investments in Brazil on the grounds that the country was experiencing a crisis both in terms of human rights and environmental issues.

Scenarios made by diplomats indicate that this trend may now increase. There is no confidence in Brazil’s word that it acts to defend the Amazon, indigenous people or activists.

Trade agreements already with serious difficulties to be approved would now be frozen. One of them involves Mercosur and the European Union. The column found that, this Thursday, indigenous Brazilians are planning an act before the European Parliament in honor of the two dead. But the event increases the pressure for Europeans not to ratify any type of commercial rapprochement with Brazil.

Members of foreign governments indicate that there will be a very harsh international reaction and that the finger will be pointed at the dismantling promoted by Bolsonaro in all environmental and human rights policy in the country.

At the UN, officials at the highest level of the entity highlight the inconsistency of a situation of violence only now gaining international news, due to the existence of a foreign victim. But the agency admits that pressure from foreign governments to impose greater demands on Brazil will increase.

Last week, the UN criticized the government’s “extremely slow” reaction in the search for the two men, in addition to attacking the comments made by President Jair Bolsonaro defaming the work of the indigenist and the journalist.

A day later, it was up to Brazil’s ambassador to the UN, Tovar Nunes, to deny Bachelet and say that the government is acting against illegal activities in indigenous reserves. He also highlighted programs to protect environmentalists and journalists.

In the corridors of the UN, just one comment: who will believe Brazil’s word?

Pressure will also come from civil society entities. Laura Canineu, Brazil director at Human Rights Watch, made it clear that the charges will continue. It calls for the investigation process to be carried out “in a thorough, independent and impartial manner, in strict compliance with the law”. “It is essential that the investigation sheds light on the circumstances and motivation of the crime, and leads to accountability for all involved,” she said.

“This is a great tragedy for the families of Bruno and Dom, as well as for everyone who defends the Amazon and the rights of indigenous peoples, and everyone who reports and gives visibility to these issues,” he said.

“It is urgent that immediate and forceful measures be adopted by the federal government, state governors and federal and state public ministries to combat illegality and criminal networks in the Amazon,” he added.

Brazilian indigenous people protest before the European Commission - Nicole Polsterer/Fern - Nicole Polsterer/Fern

Brazilian indigenous people protest in front of the European Commission, in Brussels, this Saturday

Image: Nicole Polsterer/Fern

This Thursday (16), in front of the European Commission, indigenous Brazilians held an act of protest against the violence they suffer in Brazil, as well as the dismantling of the country’s indigenous and environmental policies.

Lawyer Dinamam Tuxá, executive coordinator of Apib (Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil), cited the cases of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips, warning that they were “victims of a genocidal policy by the Brazilian State”.

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