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Brazil’s Lula slams Bolsonaro indigenous policies

BRASÍLIA (AFP) – Brazilian ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva vowed on Tuesday to undo current President Jair Bolsonaro’s policies on indigenous people if elected, branding his rival a “fascist” aligned with “those who want to kill our forests”.

Speaking at a protest by thousands of indigenous people who are camping out in the capital, Brasilia, to protest Bolsonaro’s policies, Lula drew loud cheers with a promise to create a ministry of indigenous affairs if he wins Brazil’s October presidential elections.

“And one of you will have to run it, not a white person like me,” he said, wearing a beaded necklace with a colourful macaw emblem.

If elected for a new term, he said, “we’ll need to hold a ‘revocation day’, where everything (Bolsonaro) decreed to hinder (indigenous rights) will be immediately revoked.

“We can’t allow everything you’ve fought for to be taken from you by decree and handed over to those who want to kill our forests and wildlife,” he said.

The leftist ex-steelworker, who led Brazil from 2003 to 2010, currently leads Bolsonaro in pre-election polls.

The far-right incumbent has drawn protests from indigenous groups and environmentalists for pushing legislation that would dramatically reduce the creation of new indigenous reservations and open up existing ones to mining.

Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva raises his right fist after receiving a traditional indigenous headdress. PHOTO: AP