Photo: Rogerio Cavalheiro/Shutterstock

Brazil Tribe Wins as Hotel Group Cancels Plans for 500-Room Resort

News Activism
by Eben Diskin Nov 19, 2019

On Monday, Brazilian indigenous group Tupinambá de Olivença won a battle to prevent a luxury resort from being built on its land. Portuguese hotel group Vila Gale had been planning to build a 500-room resort on the Bahia coast — land the tribe used for gathering food. The Tupinambá land is popular among tourists for its beaches lined with coconut trees, making it a prime location for a resort, but pressure on Vila Gale caused it to withdraw its construction plans.

Despite Vila Gale’s attempt to deny the presence of indigenous people on the land meant for construction, a leaked document published in October shows just the opposite. In this letter, Embratur, a Brazilian tourism agency, asked the government not to classify the land as a reserve for indigenous people so that the resort could bring investments of $200 million and create 2,000 jobs.

In the aftermath of the letter being published, pressure from the Portuguese press, Portuguese political party Bloco da Esquerda, and anthropologist and Tupinambá expert Susana Viegas, Vila Gale canceled its plans.

The tribe is still awaiting the final sign-off from the Ministry of Justice and president Bolsonaro that would designate its land as a reserve . The president, however, has previously expressed his reluctance to designate more territory for indigenous groups.

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