Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples Set Up Protest Camp on Bolsonaro’s Doorstep Against Legal Flaw

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Indigenous peoples of Brazil are protesting at the Ministries Esplanade in Brasilia against the Marco Temporal loophole in the country’s legislation, allowing appropriation of their ancestral lands, the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) said on 24 August.

On Wednesday, Brazil’s Federal Supreme Court will vote on whether to abolish the contentious Marco Temporal clause (“Time frame”), which obliges indigenous peoples to prove they have occupied their lands before the 1988 Constitution entered in force. Otherwise, their lands may be appropriated by occupants, based on a new bill on the legalisation of occupied land by businesses, adopted earlier in August.

“At this moment, more than 4,000 indigenous people, from 117 peoples from all regions of Brazil, are present at the Esplanada dos Ministerios, in Brasilia,” the APIB said in a statement.

The protest camp was set up on Sunday near the trio of modernist buildings housing the presidency, Congress and the Supreme Court, and protesters are set to stay in the camp for a week.

Joenia Wapichana, first indigenous congresswoman, visited the protest camp and addressed their meeting. The protesters were also supported by the international community and human rights and green activists from all over the world. The delegation of Progressive International, bringing together human rights organisations, political parties, unions and other institutions from different countries, visited the protest camp.

“Brazil’s Articulation of Indigenous Peoples (@ApibOficial) have occupied the center of the capital city Brasilia in a ‘Struggle for life against [President] Jair Bolsonaro’s genocidal agenda,” Progressive International wrote on Twitter.

On 10 August, the Apib turned to the International Criminal Court for help in investigating Bolsonaro for alleged crimes against indigenous peoples since the beginning of his tenure, which they classified as “crimes against humanity, genocide and ecocide.”

Indigenous people, which make up about 0.5% of Brazil’s population, hold 13% of its land, mostly in the Amazon region. Indigenous tribes are regarded as the guardians of Brazil’s diverse culture and forests. In the first two years of Bolsonaro’s government, deforestation rose by 48%, hitting record rate since 2008, with over 1 million hectares disappearing.