Photo: Kamikia Kisedje/ Apib
The government of Brazil has changed, but the Indigenous Peoples, primary guardians of all Brazilian biomes, continue to face threats
The Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (Apib) is participating in the Conference of the Parties on Climate (COP28) in Dubai urgently to relaunch the ‘Indigenous Emergency’ campaign. “We need to denounce that our lives are in danger, the demarcation of Indigenous Lands is being questioned, and the global climate future is at risk. The Congress is pushing forward bills and constitutional amendments that seek to legalize the plunder of our lands and nature in general. It is a legislated Indigenous genocide project,” warns Dinamam Tuxá, executive coordinator of Apib. The first campaign took place during the Covid-19 crisis under the Bolsonaro government, which deeply threatened the lives and fundamental rights of Indigenous peoples. The virus may have passed, but the far-right continues to act against the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Will Lula fulfill his climate and Indigenous people’s political promises?
The current president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, before taking office, was hailed at COP27 as a “savior,” not only for Brazil but for the global climate future, as there were international concerns about the destructive environmental policies of the former president, Jair Bolsonaro. Brazil is the world’s second-largest country, after Russia, in terms of remaining
forested areas and is a global leader in water resources, holding 12% of the world’s freshwater reserves, mostly preserved within demarcated Indigenous Lands, as studies demonstrate.
In acknowledgment of Brazil’s crucial role in the global climate scenario and in support of the ancestral rights of Indigenous Peoples in Brazil, Lula pledged during the Free Land Encampment (Acampamento Terra Livre) in April 2023 in Brasilia to demarcate all Indigenous Lands still in process by the end of his term. “We, Indigenous Peoples of Apib, supported the election of the current President, but on the occasion of this COP, we need to warn that the demarcation of our lands is at risk, and there is no solution to the current climate crisis without Indigenous Peoples,” emphasizes Tuxá.
Although the Bolsonaro-led far-right anti-Indigenous government has left the Brazilian executive power, it still holds sway in the legislative branch, maintaining a significant majority. Threats to Indigenous Peoples persist, promoted and executed by sectors associated with the far-right. Groups financing campaigns of lawmakers aiming to undermine Indigenous rights to favor national and international agribusiness companies continue to pose a threat.
|Who has an interest in ending Indigenous rights?
Those who aim to occupy and profit from Indigenous Lands. Agribusiness comprises national and international companies, with a market primarily focused on international sales. It sustains itself on a solid and longstanding structure, with colonialist foundations formed by politicians and landowners. According to the investigative journalism group “De olho nos ruralistas” representatives of the National Congress and the Executive branch overlap approximately 96,000 hectares of land onto Indigenous Lands. Moreover, many of these politicians were funded by farmers who also encroached upon Indigenous Lands and donated R$ 3.6 million to agribusiness campaign contributions. This group of landowners and invaders funded 29 political campaigns in 2022, totaling R$ 5,313,843.44. Out of this total, R$ 1,163,385.00 was allocated to the defeated candidate, Jair Bolsonaro (PL).
Lula, who established the first Ministry of Indigenous Peoples in Brazil, couldn’t prevent the progression of certain projects that have now become law. The former controversial PL 2,903/2023, now the Law 14,701/2023 that has come into effect in October 20, threatens the exclusive use of Indigenous Peoples in their lands in case of conflicts of interest with national sovereignty defense policies and legalizes cooperation with non-Indigenous individuals for resource exploitation in Indigenous Lands.
The ruralist thesis of the Time Frame (Marco Temporal) and other points of PL 2903, violating the rights of Indigenous Peoples, were vetoed by Lula. However, lawmakers mobilized by the Parliamentary Agriculture Front (Frente Parlamentar de Agropecuária, FPA) are preparing to overturn the President’s vetoes. The vote, initially scheduled for November 23, has been postponed and remains without a defined date so far.
“Without a majority in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, the Lula government needs to negotiate to pass structuring proposals for its current administration, such as the recently approved tax reform. But at what cost? The bargaining chip to pass such a reform has been Indigenous rights,” emphasizes Kleber Karipuna, executive coordinator of Apib.
“We reinforce that our rights are non-negotiable: the Time Frame thesis violates the Constitution, as recently determined by the Federal Supreme Court. These bills progress alongside proposals to amend the Constitution to legalize activities that violate Indigenous rights, such as mining in Indigenous lands,” adds Karipuna.
While anti-Indigenous proposals advance, the National Congress aims to internationally portray Brazil as environmentally friendly through the approval in the Chamber of the so-called “green agenda”. It includes pending measures such as the “future fuel” project to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including a proposal for carbon storage credit regulation, the National Green Diesel Program, and the National Sustainable Aviation Fuel Program, among other measures.
Who will defend the rights of Indigenous peoples in Brazil at COP28?
“While President Lula balances the forces for national governance and outlines his international speech for COP28, likely to be applauded alongside the brilliant speeches of many other leaders and negotiators, we Indigenous Peoples struggle and resist every day. Speeches do not save us from colonialist projects and the voracious advance of agribusiness. We, Indigenous Peoples, fight not to die and to continue living with our rivers and forests alive in all our standing biomes,” emphasizes Karipuna.
For all these reasons, a commission of Apib leaders is currently in Dubai, and together with the seven regional grassroots organizations, they launch the 2nd edition of the Indigenous Emergency campaign with the theme “Rights are non-negotiable. Demarcation Now!” On Friday, December 1, the second day of the Climate Summit 2023, Apib is going to be a part of the press conference “Indigenous Leadership and Launch of the Indigenous Emergency Campaign.” On Tuesday (5), they are going to be present in the panel discussion “Brazil towards COP30: Indigenous and local community protagonism in confronting the climate crisis.”
It is essential that the voices of Indigenous Peoples be heard in this context of climate policy negotiations; for this reason, Dinanam Tuxá, Executive Coordinator of Apib, will participate on Friday (8) in the Ministerial Event – Launch of the FCLP Dialogue Platform – Indigenous peoples and local communities as leaders of action to halt and reverse forest loss, where heads of States, ministers, and decisive negotiators of COP28 will be present. On the same day, the Apib Fund will be launched during the event “Climate Financing Ecosystem for Indigenous Peoples in Brazil: The unique network of funds managed by Indigenous Peoples.”
Apib denounces the Indigenous emergency situation in Brazil and reaffirms this urgency in a new manifesto in defense of life and the guarantee of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, deeply threatened by the current advance of ruralists and politicians with agribusiness interests. The manifesto will be delivered to Lula during COP28 and sent to public authorities and civil society actors to highlight the violation of rights and the threats faced by Indigenous peoples.
Additionally, Apib has created the Indigenous Emergency Committee, where Indigenous leaders and other representatives, appointed by Apib’s regional grassroots organizations, will report and discuss threats occurring weekly in territories, streets, networks, and the state.
WE DECIDED NOT TO DIE!
Read the manifesto:
Follow the Indigenous Emergency website available in three languages:
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