Curated Story
Public hearing in Roraima’s Chamber of Deputies.
Source: Photo courtesy of Joênia Wapichana

Brazil's Indigenous Leaders Stand Up As Land Protectors

This article originally appeared on Medium

Indigenous groups and their allies across Brazil have been mobilizing amidst the Bolsonaro government’s latest brazen attempt to roll back indigenous rights and bolster the economic interests of powerful agribusinesses.

Brazil’s Supreme Court is currently debating a case referred to as Marco Temporal (or the “time frame” argument”) that could substantially reduce constitutionally protected indigenous territories. History is unfolding before our eyes, with little attention from the press and world leaders.

So today, we bring you a few of these critical voices from Ashoka Fellows and Young Changemakers as they reflect in real-time about the impact of this pending ruling on indigenous rights, sustainable land stewardship, and democracy writ-large. We were joined last week by Joênia Wapichana, Brazil’s first indigenous Congresswoman, Ednei Arapiun, indigenous leader from the Tapajós region, and Kátia Brasil, journalist and co-founder of Amazônia Real, who hosted the conversation. You can watch the full conversation in Portuguese or with English interpretation.

Read the highlights

Ashoka insight

A lot is at stake for the Borari and Arapium people in Ednei's region. Since the mid-1990s, they have been the target of lawsuits fighting against the official recognition of their lands (still in process). This has set the stage for violent agrarian conflicts, and a growing food security crisis. Many timber and mining companies are already illegally operating on the land, giving Ednei and his community a clear sense of what is to come if the “time frame” argument were to pass in the Supreme Court. He is optimistic that it won’t and doing everything he can to make sure of it.