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Foundation for Endangered Languages

Issues & advocacy

14th November 2018

FEL opposes the threat to the land rights and language survival of Brazil’s indigenous people

In the presidential election of October 2018, Jair Bolsonaro was elected as the new President of the Republic of Brazil. Mr. Bolsonaro is on record as saying that under his administration no further indigenous reserves of land will be granted, and the existing reserves will be opened up to mining interests. This represents a direct threat to the indigenous population of Brazil, and consequently its languages. The Foundation cannot stand idly by and let this happen. Therefore we are launching a protest campaign against this threat. A Portuguese version of the letter set out below is going to the new President, as well as to the major media in Brazil. In addition we intend to send copies of this statement to the major British and American news media and relevant journals.  

“Dear Mr. President,

The Foundation for Endangered Languages has learned with alarm of your declared intention, as the newly elected President of Brazil, not to demarcate any more indigenous reserves in your country, and to open up existing reserves to mining. If this is truly your intended policy, it will amount not only to an ecological catastrophe but also to the effective denial to Brazil's indigenous people of their rights. The exploitation of indigenous lands in your country is already well documented: for the purposes of logging, large-scale industrial farming and mining, vast tracts of Indigenous land have already been devastated.

Our Foundation is an international charity which monitors the endangerment of the world's precious and dwindling stock of minority languages. Your country is particularly rich in such languages, though many of them are already on the brink of extinction. We urge you, in the name of humanity, to renounce this claim upon the lives and rights of Brazil's indigenous people, of whom everyone should be proud.”

[Summary in Portuguese:] Nas eleições presidenciais de outubro de 2018, Jair Bolsonaro foi eleito como o próximo Presidente do Brasil. Sr. Bolsonaro afirmou que, sob sua administração, não serão estabelecidas mais reservas indígenas, e as reservas existentes serão abertas a interesses econômicos. Isso representa uma ameaça direta à população indígena do Brasil e, consequentemente, às suas línguas. A Fundação não pode ficar de braços cruzados e deixar isso acontecer. Portanto, estamos lançando uma campanha de protesto contra essa ameaça. Uma versão em português da carta apresentada abaixo vai para o novo presidente, assim como para os principais meios de comunicação no Brasil. Além disso, pretendemos enviar cópias desta declaração para os principais meios de comunicação britânicos e americanos e periódicos relevantes.

— Chris Moseley, Campaigns and Advocacy Officer, Foundation for Endangered Languages

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