The Brazil's Minister Indigenous Peoples, Sonia Guajajara, took office this Wednesday (11), in a ceremony held at the Palácio do Planalto (Planalto Palace), in Brasília, which was attended by President Lula. She is the first indigenous person to hold a ministerial position in the history of Brazil. During her speech, Guajajara said that the native peoples are experiencing a humanitarian crisis in Brazil, caused by invasions of territories, deforestation, illegal mining and lack of adequate health care and sanitation. . She is the first indigenous person to hold a ministerial position in the history of Brazil. During her speech, Guajajara said that the native peoples are experiencing a humanitarian crisis in Brazil, caused by invasions of territories, deforestation, illegal mining and lack of adequate health care and sanitation.
"We are here, standing up. To prove that we will not surrender. It is no longer possible to live with indigenous people subjected to all sorts of evils, such as malnutrition among children and the elderly, malaria, rape of women and girls, and high suicide rates. I am here to work together, to stop the normalization of this unconstitutional state that has worsened in recent years," she said.
Guajajara also talked about the climate emergency and how indigenous territories are essential in the fight against global warming. According to her, the demarcation of territories used to focus mainly on the preservation of the culture of native peoples. The minister evaluates, however, that new studies have been showing that the maintenance of these areas has an even more comprehensive importance, being fundamental to the stability of ecosystems all over the planet, ensuring quality of life, including in big cities.
The new minister also called society's attention to the planet's preservation and the central role Brazil must play in this discussion. "We are not the only ones who need to live here. We just cohabit Mother Earth together with millions of other species. The disregard for these other forms of life, the intense deforestation practices always done in the name of short-term economics, have devastating effects for the future of us all," she warned.
At the same ceremony, there was a speech by Anielle Franco, who took over as Minister of Racial Equality. The whole event was broadcast live. Watch the video, in Portuguese, below:
Guajajara announces resumption of extinct Council in 2019
Sônia Guajajara took the opportunity to announce the recreation of the National Council of Indigenous Policy, extinct in 2019, with the "goal of ensuring equal participation between indigenous representations from all Brazilian states and organs of the federal executive," emphasized the minister. At the end of the Minister of Indigenous Peoples' speech, the Terena people made a presentation of the “Dança da Ema”.
In the 2022 elections, Guajajara was elected federal deputy for São Paulo. Considered one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine, she was born in the state of Maranhão and was coordinator of the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil. The minister is from the Guajajara/Tentehar people, who live in the forests of the Araribóia Indigenous Land. In recent years, she has gained notoriety for taking several complaints of human rights violations on indigenous lands to the United Nations and the European Parliament.