Haaland Rings the Alarm Amidst Human Rights Violations in Brazil

June 4, 2020
Press Release
As Brazil considers legislation that would incentivize corporate land grabs, Haaland continues work to protect sacred lands from corporate interests alongside 18 progressive House Members

Albuquerque, N.M. – This week, Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-01) is ringing the alarm about human rights violations in Brazil. Haaland led a letter signed by 18 of her fellow progressive members of the U.S. House to Brazil’s Congressional President Rodrigo Maia in an effort to protect sacred lands from corporate land grabs. The letter comes at a moment in time when the Brazilian Congress considers PL 2633/2020, known as the “Land Grabbers Law” which would legalize the theft of millions of hectares of public and indigenous land that continues to be illegally invaded and deforested. 
 
“We are concerned that the Brazilian government has continued to side with industry interests when it comes to mining, farming, and infrastructure projects, which have led to violent attacks against indigenous peoples going largely unpunished. Considering PL 2633 reveals a priority to legitimize stolen lands, further supported by regulations like FUNAI N.9, which allows outsiders to claim land inside Indigenous Lands that have been submitted for legal protection,” the members wrote.
 
The full letter is available here.
 
The letter is signed by U.S. Reps. Peter A DeFazio (OR-4), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Grace L. Napolitano (CA-32), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Frank Pallone Jr (NJ-06), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), and Susan Wild (PA-07).
 
Experts and organizations voiced support for the Congressional letter in opposition to the “Land Grabbers Law”.
 
"For the sake of human rights, Indigenous Peoples' livelihoods, and a safe climate, the global community cannot be complicit with the destruction caused by organized crime and land grabbing in the Amazon. The actions of the Brazilian Government and multinational corporations have existential consequences as deforestation increases and Amazon Rainforest nears a tipping point in which this critical ecosystem would fail."  - Daniel Brindis, Greenpeace USA Forests Campaign Director.
 
“Bolsonaro has kept his promise to dismantle indigenous collective land rights pushing these populations into crisis and encouraging deadly land grabs with irreversible human and environmental consequences. It is essential that the Brazilian Congress not legalize this behavior.” - Gimena Sanchez, director for the andes, WOLA


"Bolsonaro's Minister for the Environment, Ricardo Salles, sees COVID-19 as an opportunity to bypass the press and push for further deregulation, favoring land grabbers and furthering illegal deforestation in the Amazon. We must stop this genocide!" - The U.S. Network for Democracy in Brazil
 
"The assault on the Amazon rainforest in Brazil - legalized under the proposed Land Grabber Law and benefiting multinational corporate and financial interests - is an attack on indigenous territories and the peoples that live there. Indigenous forest guardians continue to be threatened and assassinated, a trend that will worsen if Bolsonaro's agenda isn't stopped cold." - Andrew Miller, Amazon Watch Advocacy Director


Haaland is working to protect human rights across the globe. President Bolsonaro’s support of deregulation and industry-interests have led to increased deforestation and the uninvestigated murders of indigenous leaders and Forest Guardians who try to contest the increased industry presence. The assassination of Brazilian councilwoman Marielle Franco in 2018 without proper investigations is only one of the many examples of the risks of speaking out against the Bolsonaro Administration, which has called for supporters to shut down the Legislative and Judicial branches of government. As a member of the Executive Committee for the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, Haaland fights to ensure that native lands are protected, human rights are valued, and the right to criticize is honored.
 
In February, Haaland and Omar ushered a historic visit of 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. 
 
Reps. Deb Haaland (D-NM), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ),  and Ro Khanna (D-CA) introduced a resolution expressing profound concern about threats to human rights, the rule of law, democracy, and the environment in Brazil in September last year.
 
That resolution came after violent invasions of indigenous communities in Brazil and Reps. Deb Haaland (NM-01) and Hank Johnson (GA-04) sent a letter signed by 54 members of Congress calling on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to take action to prevent further human rights violations of indigenous and Afro-Brazilian communities.
 
Ahead of President Trump’s meeting with Brazilian President Bolosnaro in March of 2019, Congresswomen Deb Haaland and Joênia Wapichana -- both women serving historic roles in their legislative bodies, Haaland as one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress and Wapichana as the first indigenous woman to serve in Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies – teamed up to pen a scathing opinion piece for the Washington Post. The op-ed calls out both administrations for their blatant attacks on the rights of indigenous people and their roles as stewards to the land.