Brazil: Federal Supreme Court Withdraws Decision That May Define the Future of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

FROM THE EDITORS: “Marco temporal” is a policy being weighted by the Brazilian Supreme Court, supported by large landowners, to redefine the territoriality of indigenous peoples based on a specific constitutional date (October 5, 1988). Such precedent would ignore the millennial presence of indigenous peoples on land before the existence of the Republic of Brazil, as well as their systematic expulsion from the territories. “Marco temporal” would outlaw the territorial sovereignty of indigenous peoples, which is why they are in permanent struggle around this issue. The Court recently suspended its decision and has yet to set a new date for the sentence. Below we share a call for action from the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB).

SOURCE:×785779598143258600. Translated from Portuguese by Awasqa.

Photo: COAIB

The President of the Federal Supreme Court (SCF) withdrew the Extraordinary Appeal judgment 1,017,365, on the demarcation of the Ibirama-Laklanõ Indigenous Land, of the people Xokleng, in Santa Catarina and the Opinion 001/2017, an instrument used to institutionalize “marco tempora” as a standard for administrative procedures for the demarcation of indigenous lands in Brazil. Initially scheduled for October 28, the court’s decision that could define the future of indigenous lands has yet to be determined.

“Marco temporal” is a thesis that seeks to restrict the constitutional rights of indigenous peoples. Under its interpretation, defended by ruralistas  [Parliamentary Front that acts in defense of the interests of rural landowners] and sectors interested in the exploitation of traditional lands, indigenous peoples would only have the right to delimit lands that were in their power on the 5th October 1988, or that, on that date, were in a proven physical or judicial dispute.

Nara Baré, director of the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), explains that: “Marco temporal is illegitimate. It damages the Federal Constitution itself and our rights as peoples of that land. If some peoples were not or could not be in their territories after that date in 1988, it was not because they did not want to, but because they were removed, expelled, and evicted by the Government to give rise to some type of company. The state itself removed them from their traditional territories. So it is the State itself that must return them.”

Nara also sends a message to the SCF: “We are vigilant, vigilant, and we are not going to demobilize. We are here, and we will continue to fight throughout the Amazon, and throughout Brazil, against this concept. Our history did not begin in 1988!”

COIAB, together with its grassroots organizations and its network of indigenous movement partners, will continue to fight to guarantee the constitutional rights of indigenous peoples.