Brazilians protest against Bolsonaro's environmental, indigenous policies

BRASILIA, March 9 (Reuters) - Several thousand Brazilians gathered outside their nation's Congress on Wednesday to protest against bills backed by far-right President Jair Bolsonaro that would weaken environmental protection of the Amazon and allow mining on indigenous lands.

The "Earth Event" was called by popular singer Caetano Veloso and three dozens other Brazilian musicians to call on legislators to stop what they called the "destruction" of the Amazon rainforest.

Indigenous people wearing feathered headdresses, students carrying banners against the use of pesticides in agriculture and children dressed as bees mingled in the crowd under a giant inflatable capybara and a penguin.

Dressed as a tree, university professor Priscila Borges said Brazil's environment was endangered by the expansion of farming and a government serving the interests of agribusiness.

"The situation is critical, this government is destroying what is left of our forests," she told Reuters.

The legislation opposed at the rally includes a bill that will amnesty land grabbers that have for decades illegally invaded lands belonging to the government or traditionally inhabited by indigenous communities.

Other bills would weaken the requirements for environmental licensing and increase the number of pesticides and herbicides that farmers can use.

A fourth bill, which the government hopes to fast-track through Congress arguing that the Ukraine war has disrupted supplies of fertilizers needed for grain crops, would allow mining and oil exploration on indigenous reservations that are protected by the Constitution. read more

Veloso and other musicians met with the head of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco, to ask for his help blocking the bills.

"Brazil is at a crossroads. Amazon deforestation is out of control, violence against indigenous people has increased and environmental protections have been undermined," Veloso said.

"Our international credibility has been devastated," he said.

Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Sam Holmes

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