Brazilian Congress to Weaken Indigenous Land Rights

Congress Passes Bill Making it Harder to Designate Protected Indigenous Lands

The dispute over protected Indigenous territories in Brazil continues, with the Congress passing a bill that would make it harder to designate these lands. The lower house of Congress approved the bill with 324 votes in favor and 131 against, according to news portal “G1”.

“Legally Sanctioned Genocide”

Indigenous Minister Sonia Guajajara called the bill a “legally sanctioned genocide” on Twitter. She said it violated the Brazilian constitution and the rights of Indigenous people. She expressed frustration that President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has not taken action against it.

Debate Over Interpretation of a Legal Theory

The “Marco temporal” project has been the subject of debate since 2021. It is a controversial legal theory that some landowners interpret to mean that Indigenous peoples can only claim land where they were living before the 1988 Constitution. However, many Indigenous peoples were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands and never had a chance to return.

The Supreme Court has been analyzing the constitutionality of this interpretation for years. President Lula promised to reverse this policy when he took office in January and signed decrees in April designating Indigenous protection areas for the first time since 2018.

The decree guarantees Indigenous people exclusive use of natural resources in these designated areas, and the land cannot be sold or used for mining. Brazil has a total of 732 Indigenous territories, which make up around 14% of the country’s territory.