An Urgent Plea from Brazilian Indigenous Communities

The following press release from PLANT (Partners for the Land & Agricultural Needs of Traditional Peoples) focuses on the rights of traditional and indigenous communities being trampled by powerful agri-business ​lobbyists​ and their politician​ allies​ in ​Brazil’s ​Congress, who want to make changes to the Constitution in order to facilitate their increasing access to the cultural lands of Brazil’s oldest and most exploited peoples during centuries of marginalization. 

Meanwhile, the people and ecology of Brazil face another threat, as the ongoing development of GE trees in industrial plantations in Brazil will exacerbate the already well-known negative social and environmental impacts caused by industrial tree plantations while introducing yet further impacts and knock-on effects due to the additional risks inherent to genetic engineering.


Please show your solidarity and that of your networks at a most critical moment in the struggle of vulnerable indigenous peoples of Brazil for the survival of their cultures, lands and fundamental rights.

Just sign on to the Protest Letter, translated below, by filling in your name and address and, please don’t forget to CLICK ON THE GREEN BUTTON at the bottom of the page in order to send it.

Please note the following: The sample message below, in Portuguese, will be sent back to you at the e-mail address you used to sign the petition. It is meant to verify your signature. In that message, scroll down to the http link (as an example, we have highlighted the link in red from the reply they sent to us.) Simply click on that link, nothing more. It will provide the necessary authentication they want to register your name on the petition. You’ll then receive a thank-you message for signing the petition.
(On the form, fill in the required fields, viz. name, e-mail address, and “cidade” (city & country).  The other fields are not necessary.)
Sign the petition here: 
http://www.peticaopublica.com.br/psign.aspx?pi=p2012n22454

For a quick summary of what is at stake, check:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/23/brazils-indigenous-groups-battle-land-law-change

Excerpt: “Earlier this month, more than a thousand indigenous leaders met in Brasília to protest and organise against PEC 215, a proposed constitutional amendment that would shift the power to demarcate indigenous land from the executive to the legislature – that is, from Funai, the Ministry of Justice and the president, by decree, to Congress. . . The Indians’ fierce opposition to placing demarcation in the hands of Congress is easy to understand: some 250 members of Congress are linked to the powerful “ruralist” congressional caucus, representing interests including agro-business and the timber, mining and energy industries. In contrast, there has been only one indigenous member of Congress in the entire history of Brazil: Mário Juruna, a Xavante cacique, who served from 1983-87 in Rio de Janeiro. . . . If passed, as it seems will likely be the case, the amendment also allows for the review of previous demarcations, and introduces exceptions to the exclusive use of protected land, including leasing to non-Indians and the construction of infrastructure, “in the public interest”.

You may also want to consult Survival International’s action on the issue at:

http://www.survivalinternational.org/emails/reject-pec215

The following is an unofficial translation of the Protest Letter from the website of the IC Magazine of The Center for World Indigenous Studies:

PUBLIC MANIFESTO AGAINST PEC 215/2000

Brasília (DF), June of 2015. On May 19 of 2015, the House of Representatives, social organizations and movements, of the indigenous peoples, indigenous and environmental advocates, along with the Parliamentary Fronts for the Support of the Indigenous Peoples, in Defense of Human and Environmental Rights. the undersigned, brought to the Plenary session of the House “Threats to fundamental rights and PEC 215: democracy, indigenous peoples and the environment”. As a result of the Plenary, by common accord it was decided to publish the following motion of repudiation of the Proposal for a Constitutional Amendment (PEC) 215/2000, pending before the Brazilian House of Representatives (Câmara dos Deputados) currently in the Special Commission.

The PEC 215 and its appended actions are intended to paralyze the demarcation of Indigenous Lands, the titration of Quilombo Territories and the creation of Units of Conservation, as well as to permit the approval of large-scale enterprises within these protected areas, such as: hydroelectric dams, mining; extensive agribusiness, the building of highways, waterways for industrial transport, ports and railways.

If approved, the referred to PEC 215/2000 will result in irreversible consequences for the indigenous peoples and quilombola communities, considering that their territories are vital to their physical and cultural survival, in addition to contributing to the preservation of an ecologically balanced environment, in the context of global warming.

The PEC 215/2000 is declared to be unconstitutional, for injury to binding clauses related to the principle of the separation of powers and the consecration of fundamental rights of indigenous peoples, that as such are constitutional shields and supported in international standards.

In view of this and considering that:

  • the demarcation of the Indigenous Lands, the titling of the Quilombola Territories and the creation of Units of Conservation of Nature are acts typically administrative of a strictly technical character, intended to implement collective constitutional rights gained through a long and arduous journey of struggle and debates during the period of the Constituent Assembly in which numerous leaders of diverse segments of society departed from their homes and journeyed to Brasilia to discuss and guarantee their fundamental, political and social rights;
  • these collective constitutional rights are the result of the recognition embracing the indispensability of ecological balance for the welfare of society and of the need to allocate lands to the peoples and communities that they traditionally occupy, to both guarantee their physical and cultural survival and as reparation for the historical debt of Brazil toward the indigenous peoples, traditional Peoples and Communities;
  • the struggle of the Original Peoples is a struggle for the wellbeing of all of society, in defense of the plurality of the Brazilian collectivity and of the ecologically balanced environment; the dislocation of the designation of competences in constitutional matters can only be done in order to expand rights and not to impose retrogressions;
  • the biodiversity, sustainability and environmental equilibrium cannot be subjected to the occasion of the interests of legislative majorities in the National Congress; the Indigenous Peoples and Quilombola Communities of Brazil are subjects of law, citizens, and as such, They must be respected in their rights and in their physical, moral, cultural and historical integrity;
  • renowned jurists and the Minister himself of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) Luis Roberto Barroso Rapporteur on the Writ of Security (Mandado de Segurança) No. 32262, has already warned as to the absolute unconstitutionality of PEC 215/2000;
  • it is urgent that the Brazilian government apply Convention 169 on the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries of the International Labor Organization (ILO), adopted in 1989 during its 76th Conference and ratified by Brazil in 2004, being the primary international treaty on rights of these populations which addresses free, prior and informed consultation, health, education, labor, usufruct of the land, among others;
  • it is fundamental that the Brazilian State fully implement the right of indigenous peoples to the difference and to the originary right to their lands and territories, as well as the recognition of the rights of other peoples and traditional communities.

The signatories listed below RESOLVE to manifest their total support in the struggle of the Indigenous Peoples, the Quilombola Communities and Brazilian Collectivity and demand the immediate withdrawal from legislative process the PEC 215/2000, the appended proposals and any other initiatives that serve to suppress or regress on the rights of indigenous peoples, of the quilombola communities and on the recognition of Units of Conservation.”

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