Target: Government of Brazil
Goal: Prevent legally sanctioned federal exploitation of native lands
In an unprecedented move, Brazil’s Federal Counsel General has declared that the indigenous peoples of Brazil have no right to their land if the government wants to extract its natural resources. As if that wasn’t enough, the ordinance also declares that government projects can be approved and implemented without any consultation with indigenous communities whatsoever. Such an exploitative agenda must not be allowed to persist as it violates not only Brazil’s constitution, but the most basic rights of its native population.
Previous protocol for any government development on indigenous land called for prior consultation and consent. The National Indian Foundation, a Brazilian governmental body which usually handles tribal-government relations, becomes a passive observer under the new ordinance. Brazil’s government can do as it pleases, independent of any such intermediary entity.
Discord among Brazil’s own government surfaced after this declaration became public when the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office described the change in procedure as “absurd” and “unconstitutional.” Indeed, the move has no legislative or judicial precedent. It is in direct violation of the Brazilian Constitution which gives exclusive usufruct rights to indigenous peoples and their lands. Furthermore, in 2008 the Brazilian Supreme Court maintained this very position, preventing encroaching rice growers from access to protected indigenous territory.
So, why the decision which so blatantly contradicts Brazil’s own historical precedents and constitutional standards? Expansive stores of mineral extracts and the potential for massive hydropower output appear to be more valuable assets than the preservation of centuries-old cultures and the vibrancy of diverse ecosystems.
The damming of the Amazon river to create electricity and shipping routes, coupled with the extraction of bauxite, nickel, copper, would decimate native land and leave native peoples helpless and hopeless to recover what has been theirs for generations. Sign this petition and demand that Brazil’s government reinstate and recognize its sovereign duty to uphold the rights of its indigenous peoples to their land.
Dear Government of Brazil,
I am writing out of grave concern for the future of the indigenous peoples of your country. Your Federal Counsel General recently declared a new ordinance which states that the government’s interests and rights supercede those of indigenous populations in regards to utilization of native land. In addition, no type of consultation or mutual dialogue is now required prior to implementation of development projects on these lands. This is a direct attack on the rights of your indigenous populations and is in stark contradiction to your own constitutional and judicial precedents.
Article 231, items and 2 and 3, of your very own constitution explicitly state the usufruct rights of indigenous peoples and the responsibility of Congress to approve development plans only after consultation with affected native populations. In addition, Brazil is committed to uphold the indigenous rights stipulations of ILO Convention 169, which states, “The peoples involved should have the opportunity to participate freely at all levels in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of measures and programmes that affect them directly.” Also, Brazil’s Supreme Court upheld indigenous rights in 2008 in a decision that saved Raposa Serra do Sol territory from invasive agriculture outfits.
The precedent for indigenous protection and usufruct rights is a firm historical and judicial fact. I urge you to recognize your sacred sovereign duty to protect the ancestral homes and future of your native peoples.
[Your Name Here]