After Brazil’s Supreme Court issued a ruling last week that activists hailed as a historic victory for the country’s original inhabitants, the Senate this Wednesday approved a bill that limits indigenous communities’ rights to land. This is a text promoted by far-right groups that protect the interests of powerful businessmen in rural areas.
The draft gives the force of law to a “temporary framework,” a thesis rejected by the Supreme Court last week by a majority vote of nine to two, which limits the rights of indigenous peoples to the lands they occupy in Section 5. October 1988, when the current Brazilian Constitution was published.
Indigenous rights groups denounced the “time trap” that supported agribusiness, which “maintained that Indigenous peoples who could not prove they were on their lands on October 5, 1988, the date the federal constitution was signed, were not.” They have the right to demarcate their territories,” explained the non-governmental organization Survival International.
Activists also warned that the “temporary framework” could wipe out dozens of legitimate claims to demarcate indigenous lands from groups that had already been displaced from their ancestral lands or whose existence had not yet been recognized before the deadline. During Brazil’s 21-year military dictatorship, which ended in 1985, many indigenous groups were driven from their ancestral lands.
A historic decision
After the “historic” decision, there were emotional scenes outside the headquarters of the Supreme Court in Brazil, after the judges ruled mainly in favor of the rights of indigenous peoples. Some activists wept with joy, others danced. “Long live the local resistance,” he wrote on X (formerly Twitter). Eloy Terena, an indigenous lawyer and executive secretary of Brazil’s newly created Ministry of Indigenous Peoples. Similar scenes were repeated throughout the Amazon region, home to about half of Brazil’s 1.7 million indigenous people.
It is “a victory for the struggle, a victory for rights, a victory for our history,” said an indigenous representative in X. Celia Kakriaba. “Brazil is an indigenous territory and the future is ancestral.” Brazil’s Minister of Indigenous Peoples, Sonia Guajajara, also celebrated this “great achievement”, the result of years of struggle and protest.
However, the joy lasted almost a week. This Wednesday, the Brazilian Senate “urgently” approved the central text of the project promoted by the most conservative groups, which reject the Supreme Court’s decision because of its content and also with the argument that the judiciary has “usurped”. Powers of the Legislature.
The bill passed the Senate by 43 votes to 21, where conservatism still holds sway against the government of progressive Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.
Bolsonarians against Lula
Marcos Rogerio Brito, the rapporteur of the project, said that “the competence of the Supreme Court is clear in the Constitution, but it is as clear as the competence of the legislative branch”. At the same time, he denied that this project is a “challenge” to the Supreme Court or that it could lead to an institutional conflict, reported Agencia EFE.
In turn, the leader of the pro-government group in the Senate, Randolph Rodríguez, assured that “President Lula will veto it.” In that case, the text will go back to Congress, which can override the head of state’s veto.
Only two Supreme Court justices supported the “time frame” thesis: Casio Núñez Márquez and Andre Mendonca. Both were appointed by far-right former president Jair Bolsonaro, who activists blame for a historic assault on indigenous territories by dismantling protection agencies and his rhetoric against indigenous peoples and the environment.
Mendoncha was Bolsonaro’s justice minister before being appointed as a Supreme Court judge.
For her part, Judge Carmen Lúcia Antúnez Rocha said while ruling against the vote: “We are ensuring the ethnic dignity of a people who have been destroyed and oppressed throughout five centuries of history.” The judge noted that Brazilian society owes an “unpaid debt” to the country’s indigenous peoples.
Survival International last week celebrated the defeat of what it called “the legalization of the theft of vast swaths of indigenous land”. According to the group, dozens of wild tribes could be wiped out if such efforts were successful.
“This is a historic moment: a great victory for Brazil’s indigenous people and a great defeat for the agribusiness sector.” The Temporary Framework is an attempt to legalize the theft of thousands of acres of indigenous land. “Indigenous people across the country could experience catastrophic impacts, including the uncontacted Kawahiva and thousands of indigenous Guarani,” said Fiona Watson, director of research and advocacy at Survival.
“This initiative was part of a brutal attack on Brazil’s indigenous peoples and the Amazon rainforest promoted by former President Bolsonaro and his supporters, so this rejection is very important not only for indigenous peoples, but also for the global fight against climate.” change,” he added. Now the Senate has opened a new front in this battle.
This piece was translated by Emma Reverter and updated by elDiario.es
Source: El Diario