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  • Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff

    Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff | Photo: EFE

Published 31 October 2015

The agribusiness sector allegedly pressured various lawmakers to push land reforms that would work to its benefit. 

Brazilian Presidennt Dilma Rousseff's administration formally rejected Friday a legislative proposal to modify the Constitution on the demarcation of Indigenous territories, a few days after the proposal triggered Indigenous protests.

The amendment on indigenous territories does not align with the constitutional law, stated an executive branch press release, because it transfers governmental power to the Congress to protect indigenous territories. Moreover, this option would make it impossible in the future to enlarge the existing native land.

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A special legislative commission in the lower chamber of Congress approved the legislative proposal Tuesday. It will now be subject to a vote in plenary session, and will become a law if Rousseff signs the bill. The Senate approved the bill earlier in September.

However, Indigenous peoples fear that the bill could still pass, considering the high level of representation of the agribusiness sector in Congress.

Other political parties expressed their support to the administration's position, including the governing Workers' Party (PT), the Communists (PCdoB), the socialists from PSOL, and the Green Party.

Lawmaker Saguas Moraes (PT) said the proposal was unfair and absurd. “It consists in a step back ... and it seeks to support the agribusiness sector, interested in neutralizing indigenous territories.”

Shortly after the proposal was passed, about 100 Indigenous people suspended their participation in the first World Indigenous Games launched in Palma, Brazil, last Friday as a sign of protest.

Hundreds of demonstrators filled the stadium on Wednesday during the 100-meter race, forcing the competitions of the day to be canceled.

“The proposal represents a genocide of indigenous peoples, because it strips us from our right to land,” said Indigenous leader Sonia Guajajara.

About 817,000 Indigenous people live in Brazil, representing about 0.4 percent of the total population, while the government recognizes 690 Indigenous territories, representing about 13 percent of Brazil’s lands.

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