Indigenous nations must remain ever vigilant to protect themselves against greedy corporations seeking to confiscate their lands, resources and other wealth. Intercontinental Cry daily reports violence against indigenous peoples who are located throughout the world. Leaders of indigenous nations can no longer presume that the “state” will not engage in full form onslaughts against their peoples and their territories despite international laws. States governments and businesses simply ignore commitments they have made and act corruptly to steal from, and yes, kill indigenous peoples. After more than 45 years working to establish democratic and constructive relations between states and indigenous nations, I cannot any longer say with confidence that the leaders of states will live up to their solemn commitments to respect the rights of indigenous peoples. Indigenous nations must set about establishing new international and regional institutions to block state and corporate attacks on them. The recent election of Jair Bolsonaro as Brazil’s president confirms this eminent destructive challenge to the lives and property of indigenous peoples.
Corporations are aided and abetted by equally greedy elected state governments exhibiting the consequences of “democratically elected corruption.” The long held fairytale faithfully repeated by many elected leaders in “democratic countries” is that states seek to respect the rights of indigenous peoples and in particular those countries pledge to ensure the human rights of indigenous peoples. Indeed, states’ government went so far as to approve (by consensus) the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 and the UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples Outcome Document  (committing their solemn respect for indigenous peoples rights). In less than eleven years since the UN decided to protect indigenous peoples’ rights the formerly democratic countries of the Philippines, Malaysia, Italy, United States of America, Burma, Hungary, Venezuela, Poland, Egypt, Turkey, Argentina are now under the control of tyrants, dictators and authoritarian actors. Add to these the long-time dictatorships of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Syria you can now see that indigenous peoples the world over are under attack from unscrupulous, power and wealth hungry opponents who have little or no respect for indigenous peoples much less for international commitments and legal norms.
Brazil, one of the richest states in the world with large numbers of impoverished voters and disenfranchised workers has elected a new government over the past weekend that promises to function as a military, fascist junta intent on an “anti communist” (yes I know it sounds retrograde, but that is their policy), anti-democratic and anti indigenous peoples (explicitly) actions that will deliberately move and kill thousands of indigenous people from the jungles to gain access to their natural wealth and land.
This is not a fantasy! Brazil’s fascist leader Jair Bolsonaro announces his murderous policies with no constraints echoing the actions taken by Rodrigo Duterte since his election in 2016. Duterte has used the powers of the state to authorize extra-judicial killings of thousands of people including indigenous peoples. Bolsonaro, Duterte are very extreme, but their behavior and policies are virtually the same as the policies espoused by the US government’s Donald Trump (elected in 2016), and Hungary’s János Áder (elected in 2017).
The state is the instrument of extremist threats against indigenous peoples and no international body can prevent them from confiscating resources and land, removing or killing indigenous populations, or incarcerating indigenous peoples under threat of violence. Trump is using US state power to incarcerate thousands of indigenous peoples who are escaping from tyranny and violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
State sponsored genocide–the destruction of a people in whole or in part—is clearly on the agenda of Brazil, as well as the United States of America, the Philippines, Russia (against the Tartars and Chechyns), China (against the 12 million Uyghurs), Burma (against the Rohingya) and so many other states. But, these culprits are the most dangerous since they wield enormous power and have democratically elected dictators (some installed for life).
Indigenous nation leaders have been acting like victims for quite some time, and it is understandable why they have been doing so. They cannot any longer, however, accept the victim position. They must aggressively counter the attacks that have been underway and will now accelerate due to democratically elected dictatorships. Indigenous nations have the wealth, resources and the capacity to organize their forces collectively to establish strong and forceful institutional defenses. And they must act to force accountability on these new purveyors of “democratically elected corruption” – the spreading state tyranny.
The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.access here