As the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff moves forward, interim President Michel Temer and his newly appointed ministers are attempting to put a stop to the protection of indigenous lands.
President Rousseff has been criticized for mapping out fewer indigenous territories than any of her predecessors since the end of the military dictatorship. But Rousseff and her colleagues signed several land protection decrees in the weeks leading up to her suspension from office.These included the land of the uncontacted Kawahiva, one of the most vulnerable peoples on the planet, following Survival’s global campaign, one Guarani territory which had been stolen from the Indians leaving them in appalling conditions, and of the Avá Canoeiro, Arara, Mura and Munduruku tribes.
Brazil’s interim Justice Minister, Alexandre de Moraes, has since announced a plan to revise the recent land decrees, provoking outrage nationwide.
Some 250 members of Congress are linked to the powerful “ruralist” congressional caucus, representing interests including agro-business and the timber, mining and energy industries. In contrast, there has been only one indigenous member of Congress in the entire history of Brazil: Mário Juruna, a Xavante cacique, who served from 1983-87 in Rio de Janeiro.
Many of the ministers of the interim government are members of Brazil’s anti-indigenous agribusiness lobby group which is trying to weaken indigenous land rights, including a move to change the constitution known as “PEC 215.”
If implemented, PEC 215 could make future land demarcations almost impossible, reduce the size of existing territories and open them up to mining, oil and gas projects, roads, military bases, and other developments which could be fatal for indigenous peoples.
The interim Agriculture Minister, Blairo Maggi, is known as the “Soybean King”. His family has made billions from the plundering of forests and indigenous land. He has spoken out against the recognition of indigenous territories and in favor of dams and other projects which violate indigenous rights.
Brazilian indigenous people protest in the country’s federal capital, Brasilia
Last month saw demonstrations and protests by over 1,000 indigenous people in the capital, Brasilia. In a strongly worded open letter to Michel Temer, APIB, the network of indigenous peoples in Brazil, said: “We reject any attempts to roll back our achievements and we demand total respect for our fundamental rights enshrined in the federal constitution.”
Hundreds of thousands of Indians across the country depend on their land for their survival. The Brazilian constitution and international law guarantee the protection of their land for their exclusive use, but the laws are being violated, and some tribes are facing genocide.
Survival’s “Stop Brazil’s Genocide” campaign, ahead of this summer’s Rio Olympics, is calling on Brazil’s government to stop these potentially fatal legal changes, and to implement the order to fully protect the land of the uncontacted Kawahiva Indians, to prevent their annihilation.
PUBLIC MANIFESTO AGAINST PEC 215/2000
Brasília (DF), June of 2015.
On May 19 of 2015, the House of Representatives, social organizations and movements, of the indigenous peoples, indigenous and environmental advocates, along with the Parliamentary Fronts for the Support of the Indigenous Peoples, in Defense of Human and Environmental Rights. the undersigned, brought to the Plenary session of the House“Threats to fundamental rights and PEC 215: democracy, indigenous peoples and the environment”.As a result of the Plenary, by common accord it was decided to publish the following motion of repudiation of the Proposal for a Constitutional Amendment (PEC) 215/2000,pending before the Brazilian House of Representatives (Câmara dos Deputados) currently in the Special Commission.
The PEC 215 and its appended actions are intended to paralyze the demarcation of Indigenous Lands, the titration of Quilombo Territories and the creation of Units of Conservation, as well as to permit the approval of large-scale enterprises within these protected areas, such as: hydroelectric dams, mining; extensive agribusiness, the building of highways, waterways for industrial transport, ports and railways.
If approved, the referred to PEC 215/2000 will result in irreversible consequences for the indigenous peoples and quilombola communities, considering that their territories are vital to their physical and cultural survival, in addition to contributing to the preservation of an ecologically balanced environment, in the context of global warming.
The PEC 215/2000 is declared to be unconstitutional, for injury to binding clauses related to the principle of the separation of powers and the consecration of fundamental rights of indigenous peoples, that as such are constitutional shields and supported in international standards.
In view of this and considering that:
- the demarcation of the Indigenous Lands, the titling of the Quilombola Territories and the creation of Units of Conservation of Nature are acts typically administrative of a strictly technical character, intended to implement collective constitutional rights gained through a long and arduous journey of struggle and debates during the period of the Constituent Assembly in which numerous leaders of diverse segments of society departed from their homes and journeyed to Brasilia to discuss and guarantee their fundamental, political and social rights;
- these collective constitutional rights are the result of the recognition embracing the indispensability of ecological balance for the welfare of society and of the need to allocate lands to the peoples and communities that they traditionally occupy, to both guarantee their physical and cultural survival and as reparation for the historical debt of Brazil toward the indigenous peoples, traditional Peoples and Communities;
- the struggle of the Original Peoples is a struggle for the wellbeing of all of society, in defense of the plurality of the Brazilian collectivity and of the ecologically balanced environment;
- the dislocation of the designation of competences in constitutional matters can only be done in order to expand rights and not to impose retrogressions;
- the biodiversity, sustainability and environmental equilibrium cannot be subjected to the occasion of the interests of legislative majorities in the National Congress;
- the Indigenous Peoples and Quilombola Communities of Brazil are subjects of law, citizens, and as such, They must be respected in their rights and in their physical, moral, cultural and historical integrity;
- renowned jurists and the Minister himself of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) Luis Roberto Barroso Rapporteur on the Writ of Security (Mandado de Segurança) No. 32262, has already warned as to the absolute unconstitutionality of PEC 215/2000;
- it is urgent that the Brazilian government apply Convention 169 on the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries of the International Labor Organization (ILO), adopted in 1989 during its 76thConference and ratified by Brazil in 2004, being the primary international treaty on rights of these populations which addresses free, prior and informed consultation, health, education, labor, usufruct of the land, among others;
- it is fundamental that the Brazilian State fully implement the right of indigenous peoples to the difference and to the originary right to their lands and territories, as well as the recognition of the rights of other peoples and traditional communities.
The signatories listed below RESOLVE to manifest their total support in the struggle of the Indigenous Peoples, the Quilombola Communities and Brazilian Collectivity and demand the immediate withdrawal from legislative process the PEC 215/2000, the appended proposals and any other initiatives that serve to suppress or regress on the rights of indigenous peoples, of the quilombola communities and on the recognition of Units of Conservation.
- Citizens’ Action Against Hunger, Misery and For Life
- Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil – Apib
- Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of the Northeast, Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo – Apoinme
- Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of the Southeast – Arpinsudeste
- Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of the South – Arpinsul
- Brazilian Association of Anthropology – ABA
- Association of Lawyers and Public Defenders for Democracy – APD
- Bar Association of the AGU
- Association of Indigenous Academics of the University of Brasilia
- Association of Judges for Democracy – AJD
- National Association of Labor Tribunal Magistrates – Anamatra
- Networks House (Casa de Redes)
- Central Workers Union – CUT
- Academic Center of Political Science at the University of Brasilia
- Centro de Trabalho Indigenista – CTI
- Coalition Pró-SNUC
- Youth Collective for the Environment of Brazil
- Human Rights Commission of the Federal Senate
- Commission for Human Rights and Minorities of the House of Representatives
- Guarani Commission Yvyrupa
- Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of São Paulo
- National Conference of Bishops of Brazil – CNBB
- Indigenist Missionary Council – Cimi
- National Human Rights Council
- National Council on Food and Nutrition Security – Consea
- National Coordination of Quilombola Communities – Conaq
- Federal District in Movement
- Federation of Agronomy Students of Brazil
- National Federation of Workers in Family Agriculture of the Federal District and Environs – Fetraf-DFE
- Forum of Social Entities of São Sebastião
- Public Policy Forum on Indigenous Sport and Leisure
- Environmentalist Parliamentary Front
- Parliamentary Front in Support of Indigenous Peoples
- Parliamentary Front in Defense of Human Rights
- Parliamentary Front in Defense of Traditional Peoples of African Origin
- Joint Parliamentary Front for Food and Nutritional Security
- Joint Parliamentary Front For Rural Education – FPMEDOC
- Foundation SOS Atlantic Forest
- Great Assembly of the Guarani People – Aty Guasu
- Institute of Environmental Research of the Amazon (IPAM),
- International Institute of Education in Brazil
- Institute Nzinga Mbandi
- Instituto Socioambiental – ISA
- Media Ninja
- Mobilization of Indigenous Peoples of the Cerrado – Mopic
- Afrodescendant Movement of Brasília – Madeb
- Movement in Support of Indigenous Peoples
- Movement Supernova
- Movement Torture Never Again
- Agrarian Center of the House of Representatives
- Climate Observatory
- NGO Alternative Blue Earth
- Bar Association of Brazil – OAB
- Indigenous Organization of the Mid and Lower Perus
- Cerrado Network
- National Network of Lawyers and Public defenders Renap
- Secretariat of Human Rights of the Presidency of the Republic
- Secretariat of Policies of Promotion of Racial Equality of the Presidency of the Republic-SEPPIR/PR
- Secretariat of Policies on Women of the Presidency of the Republic
- Via Campesina