Indigenous People March for Land Rights in Brazil Capital

On Thursday, thousands of Indigenous Brazilians marched through the nation’s capital, demanding that the government acknowledge the ancestral grounds on which they have lived for generations and take action to prevent unlawful mining and other crimes against those areas.

Carrying placards reading “The Future is Indigenous,” they made their way to Brasilia’s Three Powers Square, home to the presidential palace, the Supreme Court, and Congress.

In solidarity, leaders of the indigenous people met with President da Silva in the palace while others chanted outside, “Our rights are not negotiable.” Last week, he rescinded the formation of four Indigenous territories, citing resistance from state governors as the reason.

Along with demands for greater land recognition, some indigenous communities voiced their opposition to a planned train project that would have carried soybeans from the central Brazilian state of Mato Grosso to various stops on the Tapajos River, a major tributary of the Amazon. The project would have covered 950 kilometers (590 miles).

Tribal elders from the Kayapo, Panará, and Munduruku groups voiced concerns that the additional infrastructure would hasten deforestation and said they hadn’t been sufficiently consulted.

The 20th annual Free Land Indigenous Camp ended with Thursday’s demonstration. This year’s meeting displayed a critical perspective of Lula’s government. Unlike the two years before, when it was put up on Brasilia’s major esplanade, the president did not receive an invitation to attend the camp this year.

The Free Land Indigenous Camp, which is in its twentieth year, ended with Thursday’s demonstration. The tone of this year’s event was quite critical of Lula’s government. The president was not asked to attend the camp, which was set up on Brasilia’s main esplanade, unlike the two prior years.

In January of last year, Lula started a third term as president. He served from 2003 to 2010. Even though his government has established ten Indigenous regions since then, many leaders feel this is insufficient. Two hundred fifty-one territories are waiting for the federal government to recognize them.

Roughly one-fifth of Brazil is occupied by indigenous peoples. There are many places like this in the Amazon jungle.