Bolsonaro using Ukraine crisis to push for mining in indigenous lands

Ukraine mining indigenous lands
Photo: Alessandro Zappalorto/Shutterstock

President Jair Bolsonaro used his social media channels on Wednesday to call on Congress to pass a government-backed bill allowing for the exploitation of mining and water resources within indigenous lands. 

The president claims the measure would free Brazil from its dependence on Russia for obtaining potassium-based fertilizers. 

“With the Russia-Ukraine war, we are at risk of lacking potassium or seeing its prices hike. Our food safety and that of our agribusiness demand measures from the Executive and Legislative branches that free us from depending on foreigners for something we have in abundance,” Mr. Bolsonaro wrote.

According to government data, Brazil imports over 96 percent of the potassium chlorate it uses as fertilizer. The Mines and Energy Ministry claims to have found new reserves in the Amazon Basin increasing Brazil’s production potential by 70 percent. 

Later this year, the Supreme Court is expected to determine exactly what constitutes a rightful territorial claim by indigenous communities. Rural producers argue that claims made after the enactment of the 1988 Constitution should be considered illegal, while native communities say historical attachment to land must be recognized.