Indigenous Brazilians March in Brasilia, Demand Lula Demarcate Lands

Indigenous Brazilians march in Brasilia, demanding Lula fulfill promise to demarcate their lands, a contentious issue pitting the leftist president against a conservative Congress.

Ebenezer Mensah
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Indigenous Brazilians March in Brasilia, Demand Lula Demarcate Lands

Indigenous Brazilians March in Brasilia, Demand Lula Demarcate Lands

Thousands of Indigenous people in Brazil marched in the capital Brasilia on Tuesday to demand that President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva demarcate their traditional lands, an issue that pits the leftist president against a conservative-dominated congress. Lula had pledged to set boundaries for the lands of Brazil's 1.7 million Indigenous people, but so far has only set up 10 new officially recognized Indigenous areas.

The demonstrators, wearing traditional dress and carrying bows and arrows, want Lula to do more. "We are here to demand that the government demarcate our lands," said Sonia Guajajara, an Indigenous leader. "It is a constitutional right that is not being respected."

Demarcating Indigenous lands is a contentious issue in Brazil, with critics in the powerful agro-business sector and their allies in Congress arguing it will hinder economic development. Indigenous leaders counter that a controversial policy limiting their land claims to areas occupied in 1988 ignores their presence in these lands for centuries. The Supreme Court ruled this policy unconstitutional, but it remains part of the law and will have to be addressed again.

The Free Land Camp (ATL), the largest indigenous gathering in Brazil, is hosting its 20th edition this year. Organizers are trying to schedule a meeting with Lula at the Planalto Palace to discuss their demands directly. The Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (Apib) believes it would be more politically advantageous to pressure the president at the Palace rather than at the encampment.

Some of the key demands include the demarcation of the Potiguara Indigenous Land of Monte Mor in Paraíba state, which was postponed by Lula, and the 14 areas promised to be demarcated in the government's first year. Indigenous leaders express frustration and disappointment with the lack of progress, citing obstacles such as the strength of the agribusiness caucus, pressure from governors, and the diverse coalition supporting the federal government.

Why this matters: The demarcation of Indigenous lands in Brazil is a critical issue for protecting the rights and preserving the cultures of the country's Indigenous peoples. It also has significant implications for environmental conservation and sustainable development in the Amazon and other regions.

The Indigenous leaders vowed to keep up the pressure on the Lula government to fulfill its promises and recognize their land rights. "We will not leave Brasilia until our demands are met," declared Guajajara. "We have been waiting for too long. It is time for action, not more empty words."

Key Takeaways

  • Thousands of Indigenous Brazilians marched in Brasilia to demand land demarcation.
  • Lula pledged to set boundaries for 1.7M Indigenous lands but has only set up 10 so far.
  • Demarcation is contentious, with agribusiness arguing it hinders economic development.
  • Indigenous leaders seek meeting with Lula to discuss unfulfilled promises and demands.
  • Demarcation is critical for Indigenous rights, conservation, and sustainable development.