Indigenous people fear the result of judgment at the Supreme

posted on 8/28/2021 06:00

  (credit: SERGIO LIMA)

(credit: SERGIO LIMA)

The great fear of the original nations, if the Supreme Court (STF) maintains the time frame for the occupation of the reserves — which will go to trial next Wednesday — is the explosion of violence between ruralists and indigenous people and a rise in disputes between the two sides. This concern was expressed yesterday in the conversation that some leaders who are camped on the Esplanade of Ministries had with the mail.

Geovani, one of the leaders of the Krenak people of Minas, stressed that “the indigenous peoples are very sensitive to the government’s attitudes, as every day there are more aggressive attacks by President Jair Bolsonaro. We never stopped fighting for the territory in order to survive”.

For Katu, of the Tupinambá ethnic group from Una (BA), the fight does not end with a result from the Supreme Court on the time frame. He says they will continue to fight against any proposal that violates their rights, such as the Constitutional Amendment Proposal (PEC) 215/00 – which amends the Constitution to transfer the power to demarcate indigenous and quilombola lands to Congress, a competence that currently , belongs to the Federal Government. “This proposal (of the landmark) is only of interest to ruralists, but we are not going to stand still. We are 305 people in this country”, he said.

Tukumã, Pataxó from the Coroa Vermelha village of Santa Cruz de Cabrália (BA), explained that what is at stake in the STF is his ancestry. “We were taught by our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, great-grandparents to take care of our land. The earth is our mother. We cannot just think about money, we have to think about the collective, the community”, he observed.

Cássio, one of the leaders of the Tapeba ethnic group, from the interior of Ceará (CE), warns: “We will activate international bodies so that our right is guaranteed”, he highlighted.


Only 1.6% of the loss of forests and native vegetation in Brazil, between 1985 and 2020, occurred in indigenous lands, according to a survey carried out by researchers from the MapBiomas initiative, which brings together NGOs, universities and technology companies. After analyzing satellite images from the period using artificial intelligence resources, they concluded that the indigenous territories already demarcated or awaiting demarcation were the ones that most preserved their original characteristics.

“If we want rain to supply the reservoirs that provide energy and drinking water for consumers, industry and agribusiness, we need to preserve the Amazon Forest. And the satellite images leave no doubt: the indigenous people are the ones who do it best”, explains the coordinator of MapBiomas, Tasso Azevedo.

Meanwhile, the agricultural area has grown in five of the six Brazilian biomes. The growth of the area occupied by agricultural activities, on the other hand, was 44.6% between 1985 and 2020. Together, agriculture and cattle raising gained 81.2 million hectares in the period. These activities have grown in five of the six Brazilian biomes, with the exception of the Atlantic Forest.

In the period analyzed, the area of ​​soy and sugarcane planting reached the same extent as the entire rural formation in Brazil. Soybeans are already equivalent to one Maranhão state and sugarcane occupies twice the country’s urbanized area, according to a survey by MapBiomas.

While the pattern of expansion of agriculture in this period is the advance of pastures over areas of native vegetation, agriculture expands mainly over pasture areas. As a result, the total pasture area stopped growing in the mid-2000s and began to shrink, registering a 4% retraction from 2005 to 2020, after growing 45% between 1985 and 2005. (With Agência Estado)

Firewood in the fire of demarcations

1) Why will the STF decide the issue?
» In 2013, the Federal Regional Court of the 4th Region (TRF-4), headquartered in Porto Alegre, accepted the thesis of the time frame by granting the Institute for the Environment of Santa Catarina (IMA-SC) the repossession of a area that is part of the Sassafras Biological Reserve. In this place is the Ibirama LaKlãnõ Indigenous Land, inhabited by the Xokleng, Guarani and Kaingang peoples. The TRF-4 decision maintained the understanding of another Federal Court decision in Santa Catarina, from 2009.
» But now the Federal Supreme Court is judging an appeal by the National Foundation for Indigenous People (Funai) questioning the 2013 decision. The trial, which began last Thursday, will resume on September 1st.

2) Who is in favor of the framework?
» The federal government has been using the time frame thesis to prevent demarcations — President Jair Bolsonaro himself said a few days ago that if the Federal Supreme Court (STF) does not accept the thesis, “it will end agribusiness”. Rural landowners, in favor of the landmark, play in the gray zone: by arguing that there is a need to guarantee legal security, they actually work on the lack of clear records on land and the mobility of various nations that have the characteristic of being nomadic. Furthermore, the ruralists point to the risk of expropriations if the thesis is overturned.
» On the part of the Indians, there is the fear that demarcations of lands already made will be revoked if the STF validates the mark. And that one sees a flurry of lawsuits calling for the revision of the borders of the natives’ areas.

3) What happens if the framework becomes the norm?
» Indigenous people can be expelled from lands they have occupied for decades under any allegation. This is because they will have to prove that they were there before the enactment of the 1988 Constitution, something that, in many cases, will be impossible. In addition, several ethnic groups have already been expelled from their places of origin and currently live in other settlements. To make matters worse, historic indigenous land demarcation processes, which have dragged on for years, could be suspended. The thesis of the framework also brings the possibility of indigenous areas, even though they are physically and culturally protected by the native peoples, to be privatized and commercialized — something that interests rural sectors.

4) If the Marco thesis is rejected, is it peace for the Indians?
» No. This is because Bill 490/07 is being processed in the Chamber of Deputies, which tries to transform the framework into law. The PL determines that only the people who occupied them on October 5, 1988, the date of the promulgation of the Constitution, should have the right to land considered ancestral. The text was originally proposed in 2007, but rejected by the Commission on Human Rights two years later and was filed in 2018. But it was resurrected during Bolsonaro’s electoral campaign — who went so far as to say that it would end an indigenous reservation in Brazil.

» To make matters worse, on June 29, the Constitution and Justice Commission (CCJ) of the Chamber of Deputies — chaired by the deputy Pocketnarista Bia Kicis (PSL-DF) — considered the PL constitutional. The expectation is that, with the low levels of popularity of the government and the president, and the opening of the early electoral campaign, the ruralists will put pressure on the PL to go back into motion — and play hardball to get it approved by the plenary.