Target: Members of the National Congress of Brazil
Goal: Urge Brazilian Congress to reconsider legislation making it easier for businesses to exploit indigenous lands
In order to make room for mining, agribusiness, and energy interests, the National Congress of Brazil has proposed a constitutional amendment that would shift the power to demarcate indigenous territories from the executive to the legislative branch. A complementary law considered by Congress would support its goal of easily seizing indigenous; all the legislative body would have to do is determine that there was a “relevant public interest” in turning the land over to someone else and the natives would simply have to live with the decision.
Brazil’s Indians, as the country’s indigenous peoples are sometimes called, have been protesting population displacement and damage to natural resources vital to tribal survival. For example, land availability in the Tapajos River area in the state of Para would shrink by thousands of hectares due to expected floods caused by the planned hydroelectric dam project. Such projects would not only rob people of the territory that they inhabit, but would also endanger their fishing yield. By diverting most of the river flow, dams would make it harder for fish to survive and reproduce by restricting their access to feeding and breeding grounds.
The destructive consequences of hydroelectric development don’t just affect the indigenous people in the Tapajos River area, but the Amazon Basin population as a whole. At present, 231 dams are scheduled for construction in this area. River damage and land confiscation might seem like acceptable sacrifices in furnishing Brazil with much-needed electricity. However, since these projects are being planned on a grand scale encompassing over two hundred areas, it is a significant seizure of indigenous lands and a tremendous impact on the environment.
Since they are the ones directly affected by the development efforts, Brazilian tribes deserve to have a say in how much of their native habitat should be preserved and/or exploited. Sign this petition to tell the National Congress of Brazil to vote against proposed laws that would make it harder for tribes to resist land confiscation by business interests.
Dear members of the National Congress of Brazil
In your eager desire to promote rapid industrial growth in your country, you must not overstep the rights of the indigenous population that doesn’t want to see its natural habitat ruined. The benefits of providing electricity for manufacturing or consumers offered by the construction of hydroelectric dams must be weighed against the negative impact on the local population. As dams cause floods and disrupt the fragile river ecosystems that fish need to thrive, the indigenous people face the loss of their land to water as well as the depletion of their source of sustenance — fish.
That’s why it’s so vital that no laws are passed that make it possible to expedite industry exploitation of native lands. The current method of allotting land for industrial use may be complicated as it is riddled with protests and court challenges. However, only by negotiating with the local population would it be possible to come up with methods that would reduce the environmentally destructive impact of development projects. Otherwise, you will end up robbing the tribes of their lands and rivers, turning the natural treasures of the Amazon River Basin into a shadow of their former glory.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: catholicmission via Flickr