Lula wins Brazil's election: Survival International statement

Yanomami celebrate the removal of ranchers from their land © Mario Vilela/FUNAI

Lula’s win in Brazil’s presidential election is a crucial moment for Indigenous peoples and their lands. We hope it will allow for a desperately needed shift from the devastating and criminal onslaught of the last four years. It’s a matter of life or death for Indigenous people nationwide, and for the uncontacted tribes in the Amazon, it could mean the difference between survival and complete destruction. 

Over the past four years, Indigenous peoples across Brazil have endured the most anti-Indigenous government since the military dictatorship. Lula has promised a change in direction. He has pledged to uphold Indigenous rights, demarcate and protect Indigenous territories and put a stop to the war waged on Indigenous peoples by the Bolsonaro government. He has vowed to take concrete action to tackle the unprecedented levels of deforestation, soaring numbers of killings of Indigenous people, and attacks on their communities which have skyrocketed as a result of the Bolsonaro government’s racist and genocidal policies and actions – all aimed at opening up Indigenous territories for agribusiness, logging and mining.

Lula’s pledges are welcome, but we are not expecting a u-turn overnight. His team will need to exert substantial political will and resources to undo the deep damage that has been done to the institutions charged with protecting Indigenous territories from invaders. Many anti-Indigenous politicians have been appointed to key positions in Congress, meaning that Lula and his team will face fierce opposition to attempts to uphold the Constitution and protect Indigenous territories for Indigenous peoples’ exclusive use. And the political forces and global markets fuelling the genocide of the Indigenous peoples of Brazil will not go away. 

Indigenous peoples, their allies including Survival, and their supporters around the world, will hold Lula's government to account. We'll do all it takes to ensure that he upholds national and international law, blocks big infrastructure projects impacting Indigenous peoples' lands that don’t have their consent, and protects Indigenous territories so that Indigenous peoples can survive and thrive and be respected as the contemporary societies that they are. The stakes are particularly high for uncontacted tribes – the most vulnerable peoples on the planet.

Amid an unprecedented number of Indigenous candidates running for positions in Congress, Sonia Guajajara and Célia Xakriaba were elected as Congresswomen. They will be an important force for bringing Indigenous land rights to the centre of political debate in Brasília.

And Indigenous people on the front line will continue to resist in their own ways to guarantee a healthy future for their families and communities, as they’ve been doing since the Europeans invaded and colonized the Americas over 500 years ago.


30 October, 2022