A Kayapo chief speaks out to Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro

Media release: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A Kayapo chief speaks out to Brazil's president

NOVO PROGRESSO, BRAZIL, April 22, 2021 – A video of a defiant speech proclaiming the determination of the Kayapo Indigenous people to protect their lands in the Brazilian Amazon was released this week by the International Conservation Fund of Canada (ICFC).  Chief Bepronti’s message to president Bolsonaro is clear: “We want our forest to remain intact for our children and grandchildren”.  He promises the Kayapo will “fight back hard” to keep out unwanted logging, goldmining and land clearing.

This comes as the Biden administration and other world leaders are negotiating with the Brazilian president about the fate of the Amazon.  Bolsonaro has favoured agribusiness interests over conservation and has attempted to portray Brazil’s indigenous peoples as desirous of industrial development on their lands.  For the great majority of indigenous Amazonians, this portrayal is false, says Barbara Zimmerman, director of ICFC’s Kayapo Project. 

The Kayapo live in remote communities in their legally ratified territories which span an area of 105,000 square kilometers – an area larger than almost half the world’s countries.  While a few Kayapo have succumbed to the lure of illegal goldmining and logging, most reject extractive industries in favour of maintaining their traditional way of life and ecologically sustainable economic activities.  Partnership with international conservation organizations has enabled the Kayapo to defend their lands in a region of intense deforestation and colonization.  For them, cultural survival is at stake.  For the world, the Amazon’s immense biodiversity and stores of carbon is at stake.

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Contact: Barbara Zimmerman, Kayapo Program Director, zimmerman@ICFCanada.org

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