Macron awards Chief Raoni with Legion of Honor – 03/26/2024 – Environment

Macron awards Chief Raoni with Legion of Honor – 03/26/2024 – Environment


Chief Raoni Metuktire, leader of the Kayapós who is a reference in the fight for the rights of indigenous peoples and the environment, received this Tuesday (26) the title of knight of the French Legion of Honor. The medal was presented by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, while passing through Belém, Pará, on the first stop of his visit to Brazil.

Created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, the honor is the most prestigious granted by the French government. Prominent people are recognized in the most diverse areas who work for the benefit of society.

The ceremony took place on the island of Combu, one of the largest in the capital of Pará, which Macron visited accompanied by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) this afternoon.

Also present were the ministers of Indigenous Peoples, Sonia Guajajara, and of the Environment, Marina Silva, the president of Funai (National Foundation of Indigenous Peoples), Joenia Wapichana, the governor of Pará, Helder Barbalho, and indigenous leaders such as Davi Kopenawa, shaman and political leader of the Yanomami.

Chief Raoni is recognized nationally and internationally for his activism in preserving the Amazon forest. This was his third meeting with Macron, according to French news agency RFI.

“You were in Europe and I committed to coming here to your forest and being together with yours, in this forest that is so coveted and you have always fought to defend it, for decades,” Macron said during the ceremony.

“President Lula and I today make common cause for one of our friends, on this land that belongs to you. Which is a treasure of biodiversity, but also of indigenous peoples who were born, grew up and had their tradition here.”

Raoni, before the meeting, in a video published by MPI (Ministry of Indigenous Peoples), said: “I’m going to take advantage and talk to them [Lula e Macron] that they need to have a commitment to the indigenous people, to demarcate indigenous lands”.

Born around 1930, in Mato Grosso, the Kayapó leader was influential in formulating the 1988 Constituent Assembly, which enshrined the original right of indigenous peoples to their territories, and was already tipped to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Spreading messages of human rights and forest protection, he founded the Rainforest Association (1989) and the Raoni Institute (2001). Raoni also mobilized against large infrastructure projects that threaten indigenous rights and lands, such as the construction of dams — including those at the Belo Monte Plant, in Pará.

In recent years, amid discussions about the time frame thesis in the Federal Supreme Court and in Congress, the message for the demarcation of indigenous lands has been reinforced.

In 2024, Raoni Metuktire received two honorary doctorate degrees, from the state and federal universities of Mato Grosso. Recognition was given for his fight in defense of the Amazon and indigenous peoples in various international forums.

The French Legion of Honor currently has approximately 79,000 members — around 2,000 French people and 300 foreigners are honored every year. Among the Brazilians who have already received the medal are Dom Pedro 2º, former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the current Minister of Health, Nísia Trindade, and the former governor of Rio de Janeiro Sérgio Cabral.

The French president’s visit to Belém, on this which is his first visit to Brazil, involved a reinforced security scheme, coordinated by the Navy. Due to the terrorist attack that occurred in Moscow last Friday (22), France is on high alert.

Macron arrived at Belém air base in the middle of the afternoon and was received by Lula at Estação das Docas, a famous tourist spot in the city. Public access to both locations was closed.

The two heads of state met on a boat in Guajará Bay and left for the island of Combu, where they visited a sustainable chocolate factory led by women. Macron’s agenda also includes a conversation with indigenous leaders.

The objective of the visit to Brazil, according to the French government, is for the two presidents to discuss issues of biodiversity protection, ecological transition and decarbonization of economies.

This year, Brazil will host the G20 summit in Rio de Janeiro, and in 2025 COP30. The UN climate summit is scheduled to take place in Belém, but, as the Sheet showed last week, the government is considering transferring part of the events to cities such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, where there is greater infrastructure.

Last week, the Lula government created an extraordinary secretariat to coordinate preparations for the event.

Macron’s visit to Belém will be quick. Neither he nor Lula will be staying in the capital of Pará and, on Tuesday night, they will leave for Rio de Janeiro.

In Rio, they will participate in the inauguration of a submarine in Itaguaí on Wednesday (27) and then Macron will head to São Paulo, where he will take part in an economic forum and will visit the Pasteur Institute.

The official visit schedule ends on Thursday (28), in Brasília, with the signing of agreements at Palácio do Planalto, lunch at Itamaraty and reception at Congress.


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