In a colorful and highly energized samba parade at Rio de Janeiro’s world-famous Carnival on Monday morning, Imperatriz Leopoldinense, one of Brazil’s most traditional and respected samba schools, paid a special tribute to indigenous peoples of the Amazon’s Xingu River, highlighting threats to their territories, livelihoods and rights.
Under the theme, “Xingu: the Clamor from the Forest,” Imperatriz Leopoldinense‘s samba parade paid homage to indigenous peoples, while recognizing their fundamental role in protecting the environment. The theme also served as an alert to growing threats to Amazon forests and rivers resulting from unbridled deforestation and pesticide use by agribusiness interests, and compounded by destructive hydroelectric dams and mining projects. An indigenous delegation of over thirty leaders from the Xingu and Tapajós river basins as well as other parts of Brazil participated in the parade, led by legendary Chief Raoni Metuktire of the Kayapó people, one of several tribes that live along the Xingu River.
In the lead-up to Carnival, Imperatriz Leopoldinense was subjected to repeated criticism from Brazil’s powerful agribusiness lobby, accusing them of “sensationalism and unfounded attacks.” In response, Imperatriz‘s Cahê Rodrigues stated, “It was never our intention to offend anyone. Our message is: respect the indigenous peoples of Brazil.”
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