Washington, DC—In a letter sent by U.S. Representatives Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, 54 members of Congress expressed grave concerns over President Jair Bolsonaro’s contempt for the rights of indigenous and Afro-Brazilian communities, while calling for the U.S. government to put human rights at the forefront of its relationship with Brazil.
The letter denounces the categorical rollback of indigenous land rights in the Amazon rainforest and the subsequent illegal and violent invasions of their territory. In 2017, Brazil saw 57 indigenous leaders murdered—a statistic that is only expected to worsen in the climate of impunity exacerbated by Bolsonaro’s violent, anti-indigenous rhetoric. Afro-Brazilian communities also fear their lands might suffer a similar fate, as the Bolsonaro administration publicly threatens their tenancy, the letter states. Afro-Brazilian leaders have also been the victims of rising threats and murders that remain in impunity.
The letter calls for Pompeo’s attention to the worsening situation and asks for a response by March 31.
Find the full letter here.