Gathered in an area that is two kilometers from Praça dos Três Poderes, about 6,000 indigenous people gather in Brasília this week at the camp called Luta pela Vida.
The name and date of the meeting were chosen in reference to the judgment of the STF (Supreme Federal Court) which, according to traditional populations, can maintain hopes of seeing their areas recognized or definitively jeopardize the process of demarcating indigenous lands in the country.
The mega-camp brings together representatives of 176 people, each with its own language and characteristics, from all the states of Brazil. In some cases, there is not even communication between them, as many only speak the language of their own ethnic group and cannot speak Portuguese.
People of all ages traveled up to four days by bus to go to Brasília and pressure the STF to prevent the establishment of the enactment of the 1988 Constitution as the deadline by which the lands should be occupied for the demarcation to take place.
On the one hand, ruralist parliamentarians and members of the Jair Bolsonaro government say that the absence of a definition of this timeframe can, as the president stated on Thursday (26), end Brazilian agribusiness, under the argument that the indigenous already hold over 13% of the country’s territory.
On the other hand, indigenous people claim that an endorsement by the Supreme Court in this regard would disregard the entire history of violence and the expulsion of villages from certain regions by land grabbers and ranchers and that this would violate guarantees provided for in the Constitution, since the State is only responsible for recognizing the “rights “originates” of traditional populations, who arrived long before 1988 in the areas they intend to demarcate.
They also say that the concentration of land in Brazil is not the fault of the Indians, but of the 51,200 large estates that correspond to 20% of the country’s territory.
The analysis of the case began this Thursday (26) by the plenary of the STF, while the indigenous people watched the session outside the court. However, only Minister Edson Fachin read the trial report and, later, the discussion was closed due to the schedule.
The trial will resume next Wednesday (1). Before the ministers begin to vote, however, there will be 39 oral arguments of amici curiae, the name given to entities that are admitted in the case as friends of the court, and of the parties to the process.
In addition to fighting for the same cause, during this period in Brasília, the indigenous people have shared a communal kitchen and bathroom that were provisionally installed to receive them. Mobilization plenary, music round and barbecue are also shared among those present.
The Government of the Federal District, in a joint effort with Fiocruz, Abrasco (Brazilian Association of Collective Health) and UnB (University of Brasília), organized a medical center for testing Covid-19 cases and providing general assistance. The treatments available, however, are careful to respect the traditional medicine of each people.
The place has been frequented by indigenous people who are sick because they are unaccustomed to Brasília’s dry climate, one of the main characteristics of the capital at this time of year. The National Institute of Meteorology warned that the city could register a relative humidity of just 15% this week.
Regarding the new coronavirus pandemic, the Apib (Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil), which organizes the meeting, states that all recommendations are being followed, such as the use of masks and respect for social distance when possible. In addition, the vast majority are already vaccinated and the indigenous people were tested before leaving for Brasília.
One of the reasons given for the size of the meeting is the fact that the pandemic prevented, in 2020 and in 2021, the realization of the Acampamento Terra Livre, which takes place every April in Brasília.
Members of the organization usually make speeches to raise awareness and mobilize at the plenary sessions held daily.
In them, the leaders analyze the political situation, comment on the process underway at the STF and the bill in progress in the Chamber, which also concerns them, as it hinders the demarcation process and opens up gaps for the performance of public and private companies in these territories .
One of the speeches that drew the most attention, however, was not from a member of the traditional population. This Wednesday (25), Alok, one of the most famous DJs in the world, was at the camp and showed solidarity with the indigenous flag.
“I’m not here because of any political party. I’m here for you. Your cause is mine,” he said.
Singers Vitão and Maria Gadú were also at the camp and posted photos on social networks criticizing the idea of setting a time frame for the demarcation of traditional lands.
According to a report by Cimi (Conselho Indigenista Missionário), there are 1,298 indigenous lands in Brazil. Of these, 829, equivalent to 63%, have some pending completion of the demarcation process, and 536 have never had any measure adopted by the federal government to be recognized.
The entities linked to the indigenous people believe that the definition of the time frame will make new demarcations difficult and may threaten even areas that are already demarcated and are targets of legal disputes.
Lucas Tupinambá, 23, traveled for three and a half days by bus to get to Brasília and says he is frustrated with the fact that the STF has not taken a decision this week on the process that interests them.
He claims that the village he belongs to is on the left bank of the Tapajós River, in Pará, and that an eventual decision by the Supreme Court against what they are asking for could “directly affect” the region’s recognition as an indigenous area.
“We’ve already done the self-demarcation. The Constitution says that it is the State’s duty to demarcate. As the State does not fulfill its duty, we did it. We carried out the study of the area and delimited it. Now, we hope that our territory will be recognized, since we have been there since long before 1988”, he says.
He says that the demarcation is necessary for the survival of the region’s population. “The city is not prepared to receive us. So, let’s fight for the land that is ours”, he says.
The report of sheet spent the entire morning of this Thursday (26) at the camp. In conversations, respect for the hierarchy that governs community relations becomes clear. When approached, the natives send the dialogue first to the village chief or to some representative chosen by the majority.
Beprarakti Mekragnotire, 25, for example, was one of the intermediaries of the interview with Sykia Panará, who does not speak Portuguese and is the chief of the Panará people.
Sykia says that the area they live in is already demarcated, but that it is important to put pressure on the authorities to respect relatives in other villages who have not yet had the same right. “The concern is with future generations, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, how they will survive, preserve our cultures.”
According to him, the indigenous people need their preserved areas to maintain their habits. “We are also people, we are human beings. We need to hunt, survive and we are concerned about nearby people who do not yet have the right to demarcate their territories.”
The chief criticizes the president’s actions. “We know that Bolsonaro wants the Indians to plant soybeans and we don’t like that.”
Yasenako Juruna, who belongs to the Xingu peoples, praises the organization of the event and says that the only time the Military Police had to intervene was to remove street vendors who were selling alcoholic beverages.
“Drunk gets in the way of mobilization. In our land, we are already used to drinking caxiri, made with the alcoholic fermentation of cassava and potatoes”, he says, while roasting a barbecue for lunch.
Apib’s lawyer, Samara Pataxó, who is indigenous and holds a doctorate in law at UnB, says that just the fact that the president of the STF, Luiz Fux, brought the appeal on the time frame to trial is already considered a victory.
She says that the Executive and Legislative branches have adopted policies that harm traditional peoples and that she trusts the Supreme to protect the rights of indigenous peoples.
“We follow the profiles of ministers and their posture in other cases and we manage to get a sense of which of them would be more sensitive to our cause. But every vote is disputed, even the most conservative ones, who have a history of distancing ourselves from our struggle. Our message coming to Brasília is to support the STF, showing that the unworthy people trust the Supreme.”