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Indigenous people, from 200 peoples of Brazil, participated in the 18th edition of Camp Terra Livre (ATL), held between April 4 and 14, in Brasilia. Photo: NINJA Media/Flickr

Brazil’s Federal Government begins evictions on Indigenous Lands in Pará

07 October, 2023 | Ricardo Changala

The Brazilian government reported that on October 2, it began operations to evict non-indigenous people who irregularly occupy part of the lands of Apyterewa and Trincheira Bacajá, located between the municipalities of São Félix do Xingu, Altamira, Anapú and Senator José Porfírio, State of Pará.

About 2,500 indigenous people of the Parakanã, Mebengôkre Kayapó and Xikrim ethnic groups live on these lands, distributed in 51 villages. There are also records of isolated indigenous people and recent contact in the territory.

Meanwhile, about 1,600 families live illegally in the region, many of them involved in illegal activities such as cattle ranching and mining, in addition to destroying native vegetation.

The presence of strangers in indigenous territory threatens the integrity of indigenous peoples and causes other damages such as the destruction of forests. It is no coincidence that the indigenous territory of Apyterewa tops the list of deforestation in the country.

As happened recently in Alto Guamá, where FUNAI and Fuerza Nacional teams are still in the region, once the eviction is over, there will be a consolidation phase, with measures to prevent the invaders from returning.

This action is part of the clear political, judicial and social confrontation existing in the country between those who defend the ancestral rights of Indigenous Peoples and those who prioritize other interests.

A key milestone in this debate has been the ruling of the Supreme Federal Court (STF) at the end of September that in the case of the Ibirama-Laklano territory, in the state of Santa Catarina, which in 2009 lost its reserve status after a lower instance accepted the argument that the groups were not living there in 1988.

It is essential to understand that the verdict has the impact of “general repercussion”, that is, it affects about 250 disputed lands, out of the 750 existing reserves, whether recognized or not, beyond those that were analyzed in the commented case.

At the same time, Congress has approved a law that contradicts the criteria of the STF, taking up the idea of the “time frame” to recognize the rights of Indigenous Peoples, a norm that, either totally or partially, is highly likely to be vetoed by the president of the country.