Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples: a Struggle for Everyone


Between 8 and 30 June, around 2,000 indigenous peoples camped out in Brasilia in front of the Supreme Federal Court (STF) – Brazil’s highest legal instance – to reject the application of the “temporary framework” in a case brought by the State of Santa Catarina. If approved, the ruling would set a precedent sufficient to legalise the usurpation of indigenous lands, which has grown brutally under the Bolsonaro government. The STF postponed its ruling to 25 August, but the communities will continue to be exposed to all kinds of violence, as the occupations that have been taking place are accompanied by attacks on the people, physical aggression, threats and even assassinations. As they continue to fight for their rights, the indigenous peoples are demanding support to denounce and defend themselves against invaders and the authorities in power. “This struggle is not ours alone,” they say.

Some facts to understand the conflict Brazil’s constitution recognises indigenous peoples’ rights, among others, to the lands “which they traditionally occupy, their permanent possession and the exclusive usufruct of the riches of the soil…”. Recently the Constitution and Justice Commission released for discussion in the Chamber of Deputies Bill 490 (PL490), which among other things promotes the so-called “temporary framework”. This is a constitutional interpretation tailored to the needs of rural and extractivist groups, according to which indigenous peoples would only have the right to the lands they were occupying before 5/10/1988, the date of promulgation of the current constitution. Based on the “time frame”, the State of Santa Catarina claims lands recognised as traditional territory of the Kokleng people. The importance of the case lies in the fact that it was defined as one of “general repercussion”, that is to say that the judgment will be a reference for the resolution of all future processes related to the demarcation of indigenous lands.

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The above data gives some legal references to this conflict, but does not reflect the violence and anguish suffered by the people involved.

Neusa Kunha Takua, vice cacica of the Tekoha DjE’y Village of Paraty, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, spoke to Pressenza about this.

They want to legalise illegality

This is a very difficult time for us,” says Neusa. The timeframe directly affects our lives, our existence.”

Neusa Kunha Takua, vice cacica of the Tekoha DjE’y Village of Paraty

Violence and fear

While the judicial processes continue, the communities suffer violent aggressions in their own territories. Neusa describes the situation in her community, which is replicated with some variations in other cases.

In 2017, after a neighbour threatened to kill at least 3 indigenous people if they wanted to remove him from the place, Neusa’s brother was killed. He was 42 years old. Now she herself is under death threat. However, she adds:

We need the support of the whole society

Neusa concludes by saying:

As we close this article, the Tekoha DjE’y community denounces: “On 11/07, two armed men entered the village to violate, assault and threaten all its inhabitants. One of them was detained by the women until the arrival of the police and subsequently arrested. The other man fled.

Watch the full interview with Neusa Kunha Takua (in Portuguese)

#marcotemporalnao #PL490nao #demarcacaoja #ForaBolsonaro @tekohadjey

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