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Brazilians in mass protest amid government’s scheme to take over ancestral lands

Business interests use the Marco Temporal to argue that indigenous people must prove they occupied the lands in question when Brazil’s constitution was adopted in 1988.

• August 25, 2021
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro

At a rally in the capital Brasilia on Tuesday, more than 6,000 indigenous Brazilians urged the country’s Supreme Court not to touch their ancestral areas and to allow the establishment of new protected areas.

Demonstrators who gathered outside the court building used 380 lamps to spell out the words “Brazil, indigenous land,” according to a statement from the indigenous umbrella organisation Apib.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court was expected to rule on the indigenous people’s claim to their ancestral land.

The court’s decision was about a legal argument known as the Marco Temporal, which indigenous advocates fear could legalise the theft of indigenous land.

Business interests that wanted to exploit indigenous land for mining and industrial agriculture use the Marco Temporal to argue that indigenous people must prove they occupied the lands in question when Brazil’s constitution was adopted in 1988.

Wednesday’s ruling would guide the federal government and future courts in settling indigenous land issues and addressing indigenous rights.

Indigenous representatives have been staging protests in Brasilia since Sunday ahead of the ruling.

They have also demonstrated in front of the National Congress, carrying posters with slogans like “Bolsonaro out.”

Right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro is a proponent of the economic exploitation of the Amazon region and announced in the 2018 election campaign that he would no longer designate an inch of it as a protected area. 

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