Haaland, Omar, Delegation of Brazilian Congresswomen Call for Global Solidarity in Support of Human Rights, Climate Justice

February 26, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Deb Haaland (NM-1) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.-5) stood alongside a delegation of Brazilian Congresswomen to call for global solidarity in support of human rights and climate justice. At the press conference, Brazilian Congresswomen Joenia Wapichana, Erika Kokay, and Fernanda Melchionna shared their insights about unprecedented attacks against human rights and the assault on the Amazon in Brazil. Haaland and Omar echoed their concerns about Brazilian President Bolsonaro’s relationship with President Donald Trump. Haaland and Omar had invited the delegation of women to the nation’s capitol earlier this year.
During the press conference, Haaland said, ”Today, we build upon a global interest to build bridges, and solidarity in the fight for justice – for human rights, for climate justice, and for a worldwide call for action against policies that put corporations over people…The Trump-Bolsonaro relationship is a threat. It’s a threat to humanity and it’s a threat to the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land we rely on.”
“Across the world, far right nationalism is on the rise. Just as we are witnessing the chilling rise of rightwing extremism here at home, we are seeing similar developments in Brazil and elsewhere. Our strategies for confronting this dangerous tide cannot be limited to our own countries. All of us around the world have a responsibility to build alliances and share strategies to build a more peaceful and just world. I was so grateful for the opportunity to meet with our Brazilian counterparts this afternoon and look forward to our continued collaboration,” said Omar.
A wealthy campaign donor to President Donald Trump has worked with the Bolsonaro administrations to skirt environmental protections, specifically in the Amazon to increase deforestation profits, which has broader implications for the health of the planet. The Amazon was on fire for much of 2019 exacerbating the climate crisis.
In addition, attacks on indigenous, LGBTQ, afro-indigenous groups have escalated under the Bolsonaro regime, similar to the rise in hate crimes in the United States since the election of President Trump.
Joênia Wapichana, Federal Deputy is a member of the Sustainability Network political party. She is the first indigenous congresswoman in Brazil. As a Network leader in the Chamber of Deputies, she  said, "My visit to the US Congress, as leader of the Sustainability Network and the only indigenous deputy in Brazil, is important to strengthen the struggles for the defense of the rights of indigenous peoples, of the Amazon forest and socio-environmental struggles. At a time when we are vulnerable to a series of attacks and setbacks, it is important that we approach leaders who are also committed to the indigenous and environmental cause to articulate a common and proactive agenda between our countries. Both Brazil and the United States have a large indigenous and traditional peoples community. These cultures need to be preserved and it is our role, as parliamentarians, to establish the points that will ensure the defense of these rights."
Fernanda Melchionna, Federal Deputy is a leader of the PSOL-RS political party. She said, "My visit to the US comes to denounce the atrocities perpetrated by Bolsonaro against the lives and rights of workers, women, black and black people, LGBTQs and indigenous people, and to further internationalize the fight for justice for Marielle Franco. The total subservience of Bolsonaro to Donald Trump shows that our oppressors are very well connected, which means that today, more than ever, the progressive forces of Brazil and the US must fight together. Our fight must be global!"
Erika Kokay, Federal Deputy is a member of the PT-DF political party said, “Our official mission to the United States is aimed at strengthening ties with progressive congresswomen in that country. We are experiencing setbacks in the labor rights, environmental protection, in social participation, in the rights of indigenous peoples, Afro-Brazilian quilombola communities, women, LGBT's. There is a dangerous denial about climate change. Journalists are threatened daily and press freedom violated. We want to talk to the world about the countless threats to democracy, freedom and rights in Brazil.”
On February 27th, 2020 at 1:30 pm in room 1732, the House Committee on Natural Resources will host a Brazilian Congresswomen Delegation for a roundtable to discuss indigenous, environmental, labor rights, and LGBTQ issues in Brazil.