Image courtesy of World Focus
This past Tuesday, the Federal General Council of Brazil unilaterally declared that indigenous rights cannot trump government interests. The ordinance will allow the government to use indigenous land for energy development and extractive industries without consent from affected indigenous communities or FUNAI, the government’s indigenous relations agency.
Development Shouldn’t Infringe on Human Rights
The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office of Brazil called the ordinance ”unconstitutional” and “absurd” and vowed to take legal action against it. There is no precedent for the ordinance and it directly infringes with Article 231 of Brazil’s constitution. Items 1 and 2 of Article 231 grant indigenous people the right to their lands and require that any development projects on their territory be approved by the affected indigenous communities and Congress. It also goes against the ILO Convention 169, which deals specifically with indigenous rights.
It appears as if Presiden Rousseff’s administration is trying to get around or even dismantle indigenous people’s constitutional rights, which is absolutely unjust. Article 231 and the ordinance both mention the right of indigneous people to be involved with the results of development on their land. In other words, indigenous people will receive some form of payment for their land, at some point in the future. Yet whatever retribution they receive will be far from the value of the loss of their land and the destruction caused to their natural resources.