Eye on the Amazon

Indigenous Women Mobilize to Resist Bolsonaro

Photo Credit: Midia India

Sônia Guajajara, Executive Coordinator of APIB: “It’s very important to be here in Brasilia to show the world that indigenous women are resisting attacks on our rights and the rollbacks of this government. We are staging our first women’s march counting on the presence, visibility, strength, and spirituality of indigenous women. We are all warriors on the front lines of this struggle against today’s political situation, which is so adverse to our peoples. We also aim to raise awareness among the international community to build support for Brazil’s indigenous peoples. This is a global movement, a planetary movement.  

Yesterday, nearly 3,000 indigenous women leaders from across Brazil staged a mobilization in the nation’s capital as part of the country’s first Indigenous Women's March. Entitled "Territory: our body, our spirit,” this historic gathering was in response to escalating violations of indigenous rights under the Bolsonaro government, as native peoples and their lands fall increasingly under assault. 

Organized by Brazil’s National Indigenous Movement and its convening organization APIB (the Articulation of Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples), the mobilization aimed to halt the government’s mounting socio-environmental rollbacks by strengthening women’s protagonism and capacity to guarantee the human rights of native peoples, particularly through the preservation of the vast forests under indigenous stewardship.

Photo Credit: Midia India

As Bolsonaro and the Brazilian government attempt to dismantle fundamental indigenous rights and open indigenous territories to devastation, he faces resounding resistance from a movement led by women who best understand the importance of defending rights and territories for the health of the Amazon and future generations. After yesterday’s peaceful march through the heart of Brasilia’s government complex, many women entered Congress, where leaders such as Sônia Guajarara addressed the plenary. 

“Ever since Bolsonaro said that there will not be one more centimeter of land demarcated for indigenous peoples we have marched because, with this affirmation, he declared war not only on indigenous peoples but also on indigenous women,” Sônia said. “This totally authoritarian, conservative government seeks to erase and exploit our territories, negating our right to exist.”

Photo Credit: Midia India

On Monday, hundreds of indigenous women occupied Brasilia’s Special Secretariat of Indigenous Health (SESAI) to demand the resignation of its head Silvia Nobre, who is spearheading the Bolsonaro government’s efforts to dismantle Brazil’s indigenous healthcare system. This spirited action to demand effective, quality healthcare in native communities is a cornerstone of the movement’s demands, and built momentum for the subsequent march. 

Brazil’s Indigenous Women's March joined a major mobilization of Latin American women’s organizations known as the “Margaridas March,” where more than 100,000 female rural workers march on Brasilia. Together, these women-led movements aim to advance new vision of sustainable development and social justice in resistance to Bolsonaro’s reckless socio-environmental agenda.

Photo Credit: Midia India

Célia Xacriabá of APIB issued this statement about the march:

“For the first time in history, the indigenous women’s march convenes more than 100 different peoples in Brasilia with more than 2,000 women present. This is a movement that is not only symbolically important, but also historically and politically significant. When they try to take away our rights, it’s not enough to only defend our territories. We also need to occupy spaces beyond our villages, such as institutional spaces and political representativity. 

We call on the international community to support us, to amplify our voices and our struggle against today’s legislative genocide, where our own government is authorizing the slaughter and ethnocide of indigenous peoples. This is also an opportunity to join our voices to denounce this government’s ecocide, where the killing of mother nature is our collective concern."

“We came to denounce the president’s hateful discourse, which has increased violence and destruction in our territories, which directly impacts us women,” said Sônia Guajajara. “We are also marching to invite the international community to support us, to strengthen our actions, to denounce the attacks we are suffering, and to join the struggle for our rights, for our lives, and in defense of mother earth and the environment. We are counting on international solidarity to advance this movement for our future.”

This week’s women’s mobilization is a critical step forward in mounting effective opposition to the attacks of the Bolsonaro regime. The international community has a moral duty to stand in resistance with these indigenous women Earth Defenders whose struggle is also our own.

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