Portuguese hotel chain Vila Galé is under fire over plans it has to build a luxury resort within indigenous Brazilian territory.
A petition has been created on Change.org (click here) and is busily gathering signatures.
Raised by anthropological associations of both Portugal and Brazil, the petition suggests Vila Galé management has actually lied to try and get its way, suggesting there are no indigenous people in the area, or any traces of them.
Says the petition text: “The identification of this indigenous territory was published in the (official government newspaper) of April, 20, 2009. Contrary to what the hotel group alleges, in a statement all challenges to the demarcation of this native territory have been rejected and there are no doubts on the tradition of occupation of the area.
“We consider therefore of particular gravity the affirmation that “there are no indigenous people in this area or traces of them”.
Vila Galé’s full statement can be read here
Says the hotel group, the plan is a ‘structuring project’ (similar to what Portugal calls a PIN, project of national importance) that will create more than 500 direct jobs and 1,500 indirect jobs, as well as “wealth” for Brazil as a whole in terms of incoming tourism.
The project, which is waiting for final permissions, is for “a large resort with around 500 rooms, six restaurants, a conference and events centre, swimming pools, children’s club and water park, reception, bars, SPA with indoor heated pool etc., very much in the same vein as other developments Vila Galé has constructed in several Brazilian states – including Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Pernambuco, Bahia and Rio de Janeiro”.
Anthropologists call the project destined for a mangrove swamp “an incalculable environmental attack on the Tupinambá people, who use it in a sustainable way.”
If given the judicial go-ahead, it represents a grave threat to the survival of the Tupinambá (full name Tupinambá de Olivença) and will open a “worrying precedent for all indigenous people in Brazil”.
It should be recalled here that when Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro came to power last year he swore that “not another centimetre of indigenous land would be protected” under his leadership.
He announced his intention to forcibly integrate indigenous peoples and said it was “a shame that the Brazilian cavalry wasn’t as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated the Indians”.
The only light in this desperate situation, say international reports, is that Brazil’s judges “have shown they are willing to stand up to the president”.
And those are the people to whom anthropologists and thousands of everyday people who care are now appealing.