Inauguration of Brazil’s new president (January 1)
Lula will have to strengthen the rights of indigenous peoples
On the occasion of the inauguration of the new president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (on January 1, 2023), the indigenous peoples of Brazil have put forward important demands regarding their rights. Processes of legal recognition of their territories – which were suspended completely under the prior government – are now a matter of top priority. “Further, Bolsonaro’s regime had issued several anti-indigenous laws, which the new government will have to revoke as soon as possible,” stated Dr. Eliane Fernandes, expert on indigenous peoples at the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP). “The state must respect the rights of the indigenous peoples again – and, above all, enforce them. Most importantly, it will have to put an end to the ongoing invasions of their territories, in connection with land grab and illegal raw materials production, which have led to a massive wave of violence. Over the last few years, quite a few indigenous people were murdered for trying to defend their territories.”
The Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) has published a 10-point plan that lists the most important demands. Thus, Act 001/2017, the so-called Marco Temporal, should be revoked immediately. The act states that indigenous communities can only claim land if they can prove that they had already been living there before the Brazilian constitution came into force. Apart from this one, six other legal acts are to be revoked immediately – and four more within the first 100 days of Lula’s presidency. An example for this is Act 10.965, which allows for mining projects on indigenous territories – and Administrative Order 3.021 of the Ministry of Public Health, which governs bans on participation in the local indigenous health councils.
Eloy Terena, Legal Coordinator of the APIB and member of the government transition team, specifically mentioned the demarcation of 13 indigenous territories that are supposed to be officially recognized by the Brazilian state within the first 30 days of this period of governance. He stated: “There are no open questions regarding these 13 indigenous territories. This means that they can be officially recognized. Five of the cases had already reached the President’s office but were transferred back to the indigenous authority Funai by the Bolsonaro government. What we are seeing is a lack of political will – which is why we are turning to President Lula in this matter.”
Eliane Fernandes added: “The German Federal Government should ensure that – in the scope of bilateral cooperation with Brazil – the rights of the indigenous peoples and the Quilombolas are respected. With regard to the Amazon Fund for the Protection of the Forest and the Climate, we recommend increased and more direct support for indigenous organizations. It has been shown that the indigenous communities are very good at protecting the Amazon rainforest. These efforts must be acknowledged – also by means of financial support for specific projects. Further, Germany should promote and issue strict laws to ensure deforestation-free supply chains. Products from the Amazon region that are linked to human rights violations and environmental damage should not reach Germany.”