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Temer offers amnesty, erasing up to $2.1 billion in environmental crime fines

Guarani Kaiowa Indians demonstrate in support of their ancestral land rights. The banner reads: Enough foot-dragging, We urgently demand the demarcation of our lands.” President Temer has done nothing to meet the Indians’ demand for land demarcation as guaranteed under the 1988 Brazilian Constitution; now instead he has offered amnesty for a large percentage of the environmental fines owed by some of the farmers and ranchers who occupied their territory. Photo by Ruy Sposati / CIMI The state of Mato Grosso do Sul has its share of serious environmental problems, with many of its waterways heavily silted and large land areas deforested. It is also the locale for one of country’s most enduring indigenous conflicts: the demoralized but tenacious Guarani Kaiowa — forced to squat on roadsides next to fences erected by cattle ranchers to keep them off their ancestral territory — have one of the world’s highest suicide rates. Those cattle ranchers have a powerful political voice, through the rural caucus (bancada ruralista), the biggest lobby in Congress, which dutifully represents their interests. It was this consideration that appears to have caused President Michel Temer last week to choose the city of Miranda in Mato Grosso do Sul as the place to announce a new national policy forgiving fines imposed on farmers for illegally clearing forest and committing other environmental crimes as they occupy land to turn into ranches. IBAMA, the nation’s environmental agency, regularly imposes fines, often after meticulous and dangerous investigations for environmental crimes, but the vast…

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