On September 27, the Brazilian Senate approved the bill that seeks to legalize the Time Frame thesis for Indigenous land demarcation, along with other crimes that threaten Brazil’s Indigenous peoples. The bill PL 2903/2023 is currently under review by the Presidency of the Republic: the president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has until October 18 to either approve or veto (in full or in part) the bill. Apib demands a complete veto of the bill and urges Lula to commit to respecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples and ensuring the protection of Indigenous Lands, as they represent a safeguard against global climate change.
PL 2903, dubbed by the Indigenous movement as the Indigenous Genocide Bill, aims to legalize social and environmental crimes and poses a threat to the lives of Indigenous Peoples in Brazil. In addition to the Time Frame, the bill includes the relaxation of the no-contact policy with voluntarily isolated Indigenous Peoples and opens the door to commodity production and infrastructure construction in Indigenous Lands, among other violations of Indigenous rights. In line with the Supreme Federal Court’s decision on September 27, declaring the Time Frame unconstitutional, and consistent with the current Brazilian Government’s commitment to respecting Indigenous Peoples’ rights, Apib requests that Lula fully veto all provisions of the Indigenous Genocide Bill.
The Articulation, along with other civil society organizations, has sent an urgent appeal to the United Nations (UN) denouncing the violence suffered by Indigenous Peoples in Brazil, warning about the approval of PL 2903, and requesting support to urge Lula to veto the bill.
It is impossible to combat climate change without demarcating Indigenous Lands
Elected as an alternative to the anti-Indigenous conservatism of former President Jair Bolsonaro and under the promise to completely eradicate deforestation in the Amazon by 2030, President Lula now has the opportunity to reaffirm his commitment to protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples and addressing the climate crisis. PL 2903 represents a threat to the global climate and biodiversity, both of which are partly ensured through environmental protection within Indigenous Lands.
Apib warns that, in addition to the Time Frame, PL 2903 seeks to legalize crimes against Indigenous Peoples in favor of political and economic interests supported by the ruralist caucus in the Senate. Apib points out seven other proposals in the Indigenous Genocide Bill that must be vetoed by Lula, as they represent crimes against Indigenous Peoples and a threat to all of humanity:
1. Establish racist criteria for who is or isn’t Indigenous;
2. Allow the construction of roads, hydroelectric dams, and other projects in Indigenous Lands without prior, free, and informed consultation;
3. Permit monocultures, soybean cultivation, livestock farming, promotion of mining, and resource extraction in Indigenous Lands;
4. Open the possibility of challenging the demarcation processes of territories, including those of already-demarcated Indigenous Lands;
5. Recognize the legitimacy of land possession by invaders of Indigenous Lands;
6. Relax the no-contact policy with voluntarily isolated Indigenous Peoples;
7. Modify constitutional concepts of Indigenous policy, such as the traditional occupancy, original rights, and exclusive enjoyment of Indigenous Peoples over their territories.
Eradicating deforestation and meeting the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for reducing greenhouse gas emissions will become, both, unattainable commitments if PL 2903 is approved and allows the destruction of some of the country’s lands with the lowest deforestation rates and the highest biodiversity. In the past 30 years, Brazil has lost 69 million hectares of native vegetation. However, only 1.6% of this deforestation has occurred within Indigenous Lands. Preserving all of Brazil’s biomes and implementing consistent climate policies are only possible by ensuring the full access of Indigenous Peoples to their territories.
In December, Brazil will assume the presidency of the G20 under the theme of justice and sustainability. However, the global economic future will be tainted by blood if the violence suffered by Indigenous Peoples as a result of the growth of devastating criminal activities is not halted. During the opening conference of the United Nations General Assembly, Lula reaffirmed his commitment to implementing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in an integrated and indivisible manner, stating that “in Brazil, we have already proven once, and we will prove again, that a socially just and environmentally sustainable model is possible.” Nevertheless, social justice is unattainable without guaranteeing the lives of traditional populations, and an environmentally sustainable model cannot exist without standing forests. Therefore, the fight against climate change is only possible with respect for and demarcation of Indigenous Lands.
Protests Against the Time Frame thesis
The Indigenous movement has carried out approximately 300 protests against the Time Frame thesis so far in 2023. These protests took place between May and September and were organized and coordinated by Apib and its seven regional grassroots organizations.
The Time Frame is a political thesis supported by agribusiness and disregards the decision of the Supreme Court
After a two-year process, on September 27, Brazil’s Supreme Court annulled the Time Frame proposal with a majority vote of 9 to 2 and added the condition of compensation for those who own property in an area recognized as Indigenous Land for demarcation. However, under an expedited process, on the same day, the Senate voted on PL 2903, which was ultimately approved with 43 votes in favor and 21 against.
Apib emphasizes that the Senate’s actions challenge the Supreme Court to serve the interests of agribusiness and Brazilian politicians who have direct ties to the invasion of Indigenous lands, as demonstrated by the dossier “The Invaders” by the journalistic group De olho nos ruralistas. According to the study, representatives of the National Congress and the Executive branch own approximately 96,000 hectares of land that overlap with Indigenous lands. Furthermore, many of them received funding from invading farmers in Indigenous Lands, who donated 3.6 million reais to the electoral campaigns of ruralists. This group of invaders supported 29 political campaigns in 2022, totaling 5,313,843.44 reais. Out of this total, 1,163,385.00 reais were allocated to the defeated candidate, Jair Bolsonaro (PL).
Additionally, after the annulment of the Time Frame by the Supreme Court, Senator Dr. Hiran (PP-RR) introduced a Constitutional Amendment Proposal (PEC) on September 21 aimed at establishing the Time Frame thesis. Named PEC 048/2023, the amendment seeks to modify the 1988 Federal Constitution, which recognizes the original rights of Indigenous peoples over traditionally occupied lands.
The Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (Apib) is a national reference body of the indigenous movement in Brazil, created from the bottom up. It brings together seven regional Indigenous organizations (Apoinme, ArpinSudeste, ArpinSul, Aty Guasu, Terena Council, Coaib, and Guarani Yvyrupa Commission) and was born with the purpose of strengthening the unity of our peoples, fostering coordination among different regions and Indigenous organizations in the country, as well as mobilizing Indigenous peoples and organizations against threats and violations of Indigenous rights.
For more information and to schedule interviews, you can contact the Apib press service:
Communication management – Samela Sateré Mawé – +55 (92) 98285 5077
International communication service – +55 (65) 99686 6289 / +55 (21) 96665 5518 / +55 (92) 99430-3762