Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

The war on Indigenous rights in Brazil is intensifying

By Mark Harris and Denise Ferreira Da Silva

Indigenous peoples in Brazil are under siege by the Brazilian government, which is waging war on two fronts. New legislation in the form of a bill known as PL 490/2007 threatens to cancel legal protections for Indigenous territories, while a landmark Supreme Court case over the so-called marco temporal, a 1988 cut-off date that threatens to strip the Indigenous peoples of existing land rights. Though not as visible as the effects of the fires that destroyed large swathes of the Amazon forest in 2019 and 2020, were the legislation to pass and the legal ruling to go against the Indigenous peoples, the consequences will be catastrophic.

On 23 June, a committee in the lower house of the Brazilian parliament approved a draft of PL 490/2007, which will now be put to the vote. If lawmakers pass the bill, it will end Indigenous peoples’ right to be consulted on the use of their land by non-Indigenous peoples. The government could allow unrestricted access to natural resources, including extractive activities such as mining and commercial agriculture.

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