Around 400 representatives of Brazil’s native peoples, many wearing tribal outfits, gathered in front of the Lower House of the Brazilian Parliament to protest against the 55th proposed constitutional amendment which is currently being considered by the Senate. The amendment is to freeze public spending for the next 20 years. Another proposed law under fire is Bill 4059 which will enable foreign companies to buy land in Brazil. The protests have been ongoing since Tuesday.
Brazilian Indians are particularly sensitive to the issue of land rights. Back in 2000, the Government proposed PEC215, a constitutional amendment that would shift the power to demarcate indigenous land from the executive to the legislature – that is to Congress. The scheme would allegedly give anti-Indian landowners the chance to block the recognition of new indigenous territories, and even enable them to break up existing ones.
Cleber Buzatto, the Secretary General of the Missionary Council on Indigenous Populations, told Sputnik Brazil that bills such as PEC215, PEC55 and Bill 4059 violate the rights of indigenous people and Brazil's citizens as a whole.
“The idea of selling land to foreigners enabled by Bill 4059 has serious consequences. We will closely watch any conflicts, abuses and violence against indigenous communities who already suffer from attacks on their territories,” Buzatto said.
Buzatto blames Michel Temer’s government for the situation, saying they spend no efforts in order to appoint trusted people to strategic positions in state agencies responsible for the land distribution and indigenous policies.
“Those officials regard such issues from the perspective of the military and religious fanatics. This is an anti-constitutional approach because our constitution guarantees indigenous peoples’ rights for their traditions, their beliefs and their land,” Buzatto said.
Temer, who came to power in August after president Dilma Rousseff's impeachment, had vowed to impose austerity measures and business-friendly reforms to drag Brazil out of recession.
President Temer said that he planned to review all demarcations made by then-President Dilma Rousseff from December 2015 (when the impeachment process started) to May 12th, when Rousseff was suspended from her post. According to officials, more than 75 decrees were issued by the former leader during that time, giving more than 1.4 million hectares of land to indigenous communities.