Brazilian Indians fear ‘absurd’ setback over land rights

July 25, 2012

The Guarani and other Indians are contesting a new decree which weakens control over their lands © Fiona Watson/Survival

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Brazilian Indians have expressed their anger and dismay as a new directive threatens to weaken their control over their lands.

The directive, signed by Brazil’s Solicitor-General, prohibits the expansion of Indigenous territories, upon which many tribes depend for their survival.

It is a result of pressure from Brazil’s powerful rural lobby group which includes many politicians who own ranches on Indigenous land due to be returned to the Indians.

Directive 303 could prove particularly disastrous for the Guarani Indians, many of whom are living in roadside camps or overcrowded reserves while they wait for their ancestral land to be fully mapped out.

A Guarani spokesman told Survival, ‘This directive puts our survival in extreme danger… We are being ignored as human beings, as the first occupants of this land. It is the start of the extermination of Indigenous people’.

The text also states that certain projects on Indian land may be carried out ‘independently of consulting the Indigenous communities’. This violates Brazilian and international law, and could pave the way for more disastrous dams in Indigenous territories in the Amazon.

Brazil’s Public Prosecutors’ Office has described the text as ‘absurd’ and ‘unconstitutional’.

Brazilian Indigenous organizations, NGOs, and Survival have called for the directive to be revoked.

FUNAI, the Brazilian government’s Indigenous affairs department, has requested the Solicitor-General’s office to suspend the directive to allow Indigenous peoples to be consulted about its content.

Brazilian Indigenous People