Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro spoke out against what he characterized as “media lies” about the Amazon and alleged manipulation of the indigenous people who live there.
“We all know that all countries have problems. Yet, the sensationalist attacks that we have suffered coming from a large part of the international media due to the fire outbreaks in the Amazonian region have aroused our patriotic sentiment,” he stated.
“It is a fallacy to say that the Amazon is the heritage of humankind, and a misconception, as confirmed by scientists, to say that our Amazonian forests are the lungs of world. Using these fallacies, certain countries instead of helping, embarked on the media lies and behaved in a disrespectful manner and with a colonialist spirit. They even called into question that which we hold as the most sacred value: our own sovereignty.”
Brazil is South America’s biggest country and the Amazon region is larger than Western Europe.
Mr. Bolsonaro said around 14 per cent of the national territory has been demarcated as indigenous lands, some of which contain gold, diamonds, uranium and other valuable resources.
The President said foreign governments have “manipulated” some indigenous leaders to advance their own interests in the Amazon.
“Unfortunately, some people both inside and outside Brazil, supported by NGOs, have stubbornly insisted on treating and keeping our Indians as if they are real cavemen,” he continued.
“The indigenous people do not want to be poor, large landholders sitting on rich lands…especially sitting on the world’s richest lands.”
Mr. Bolsonaro was elected in October 2018. This was his first address to the General Assembly, where Brazil traditionally speaks first.
The President said he was introducing what he described as “a new Brazil” that is working to regain world trust after emerging from “the brink of socialism”.