What President Bolsonaro says about Brazil’s Indigenous peoples

Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right, nationalist politician, took office as President of Brazil on 1 January, 2019. A former army captain, he has made many racist and offensive remarks about Indigenous peoples in Brazil, over a long period of time. This is a selection.

Racist remarks

“The Indians are evolving, more and more they are human beings like us.” — UOL Notícias

“The Indians don’t speak our language, they don’t have money, they don’t have culture. They are Native peoples. How did they manage to get 13% of the national territory?” — UOL Notícias

On wiping out the “Indians”

“It’s a shame that the Brazilian cavalry hasn’t been as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated the Indians.” — Campo Grande News

Article from Correio Braziliense, April 1998, that includes Jair Bolsonaro’s quote “It’s a shame that the Brazilian cavalry hasn’t been as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated the Indians.” © Survival

On Indigenous people as an obstacle to mining & agribusiness

“There is no Indigenous territory where there aren’t minerals. Gold, tin and magnesium are in these lands, especially in the Amazon, the richest area in the world. I’m not getting into this nonsense of defending land for Indians.” — Campo Grande News

“[Indigenous reserves] are an obstacle to agri-business. You can’t reduce Indigenous land by even a square meter in Brazil.” — Campo Grande News

On the demarcation of Indigenous territories

“I fought with Jarbas Passarinho [former Minister of Justice] right here. I fought with him about the high treason he committed in demarcating the Yanomami reserve. Criminal.” — Interview with Marcelo Godoy, Estado de São Paulo

“Not a centimeter will be demarcated either as an Indigenous reserve or as a quilombola [territory for descendents of African slave communities].” — Hebrew Club

“You can be sure that if I get there [elected President of Brazil] there will be no money for NGOs. If it’s up to me, every citizen will have a firearm in the house. There will not be a centimeter demarcated for Indigenous reservations or quilombolas.” — Estadão

“If I become President there will not be a centimeter more of Indigenous land.” — Dourados. He later corrected himself, and said he meant “not one millimeter” in this interview with Globo News.

Survival’s statement following the election of Jair Bolsonaro in 2019. © Survival

“This unilateral policy of demarcating Indigenous land by the Executive will cease to exist. Any reserve that I can reduce in size, I will do so. It will be a very big fight that we’re going to have with the UN.” — Correio do Estado

On abolishing existing Indigenous territories

“In 2019 we’re going to rip up Raposa Serra do Sol [Indigenous Territory in Roraima, northern Brazil]. We’re going to give all the ranchers guns.” — Congress

On forcibly integrating Indigenous people

“We are going to integrate them into society. Just like the army which did a great job of this, incorporating the Indians into the armed forces.” — Globo News

On dismantling FUNAI (Brazil’s Indigenous Affairs Agency)

“If I’m elected, I’ll serve a blow to FUNAI; a blow to the neck. There’s no other way. It’s not useful anymore.” — Espírito Santo



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Survival International


Survival International is the global movement for tribal peoples. We help them defend their lives, protect their lands and determine their own futures.