Sonia Guajajara: Turnaround from jail threats to Minister of Indigenous Peoples

Sonia Guajajara: Turnaround from jail threats to Minister of Indigenous Peoples

BRASÍLIA, Brazil — Hell, tragic and terror. These are the main key words used by Minister of Indigenous Peoples Sonia Guajajara to describe to Mongabay what the four years of the government of former President Jair Bolsonaro meant for Native peoples. “It was really [like a] hell. Everything we talked about was monitored.” She recalls a “terrible” episode when she was threatened by General Augusto Heleno, former head of the president’s institutional security office (GSI), after accusing the government of negligence and the genocide of Indigenous peoples during the COVID-19 pandemic. “He threatened me on Twitter, saying that I had to be arrested. It was terrible.” For her, Bolsonaro’s government was tragic for Indigenous policy and for Indigenous peoples, for the environment, for human rights and for women. “We lived a moment of great fear and terror. It was a government that brought terror to society and also to the civil servants. Everybody worked very scared, afraid, persecuted.” In this video interview a week before her official inauguration, Sonia Guajajara tells Mongabay about the turnaround in the last months that led to the creation of the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples, an unprecedented act in Brazil’s history, and the behind-the-scenes account of her appointment. “I never imagined myself a minister. I never imagined myself a congresswoman, because my work in the Indigenous movement has always been very fulfilling for me,” she tells Mongabay at her office at the newly created Ministry of Indigenous Peoples in Brasília. But she says she accepted…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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