A battle is shaping up in Brazilian politics that is pitting that nation’s indigenous peoples against powerful agribusiness, timber and mining interests.
Brazil’s indigenous peoples are organizing against PEC 215, a proposed constitutional amendment that would shift the power to “demarcate” indigenous land from the executive branch to the legislative branch. The proposal is drawing fierce opposition from indigenous communities, because as many as 250 members of the Brazilian congress are linked to a powerful “ruralist” caucus that represents interests in agribusiness. By contrast, only one indigenous person has served in the Brazilian congress in that nation’s entire history.
Many think that PEC 215 will worsen the already tenuous situation of the country’s impoverished indigenous communities, by further limiting their access to land.
Fiona Watson, the research director for Survival International – the London-based charity which campaigns for indigenous people – said that if approved, PEC 215 would “put the fox in charge of the hen-house”.
“Many Indians consider PEC 215 a move to legalise the theft and invasion of their lands by agri-business. It will cause further delays, wrangling and obstacles to the recognition of their land rights,” she said.
The demarcation of Brazil’s indigenous territories, specified in the country’s 1988 constitution, was supposed to have been completed by 1993.