Brazil has designated protected areas for indigenous peoples for the first time in more than four years. President Lula signed executive orders for six new reservations. The areas and their resources are now reserved for the indigenous people.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has signed decrees establishing protected areas for indigenous peoples in the country – the first since 2018. “I am happy today to sign the official approval of six indigenous territories,” Lula wrote at the end of an indigenous protest camp in the capital Brasilia on Twitter.
Lula wants “as many Aboriginal reservations as possible.”
The Ordinance guarantees to the indigenous people the exclusive use of the natural resources in these areas. Land may not be sold, and mining is also prohibited.
The chief said, “When you say you claim 14 percent of the land and that’s a lot, you have to remember that before the arrival of the Portuguese, you were claiming 100 percent.”
Lula referred to his government’s pledge to not deforestation in Brazil by 2030. To achieve this goal, he said, “we need recognized indigenous lands.” “It is a very time consuming process, but we will ensure that as many indigenous reserves as possible are set aside.” The indigenous people are the “guardians of the forest”.
13.8 percent of state lands protected
Two of the six new reserves are in the Amazon region, and two more are in the northeast of the country and in the states of Goiás and Rio Grande do Sul. Altogether, these areas are more than 6,000 square kilometres.
Brazil now has 732 indigenous reserves, which make up 13.8 percent of the state’s territory. Other indigenous designation plans are already underway: as Indigenous Minister Sonia Guajara announced last month, 14 reserves totaling nearly 900,000 hectares are ready for formal designation. “We will write a new history for our planet for the benefit of all mankind,” said the minister after signing.
Bolsonaro wanted to go back to 1988
Right-wing populist Jair Bolsonaro, who held the presidency from 2019 to 2022, has refused to allocate new lands to indigenous people. He wanted to promote economic use in the Amazon. Shortly before taking office, Bolsonaro declared that he would “not give an inch more” to the indigenous population.
Under his presidency, illegal logging of the rainforest has increased, reaching a record high in 2021. At the same time, more and more gold prospectors have pushed into indigenous protected areas, cutting trails in the rainforest and polluting rivers.
The Bolsonaro government’s “anti-indigenous agenda” also included “Marco Temporal,” a controversial legal thesis that big landowners, for example, interpret in such a way that indigenous peoples could only claim the land they lived on before the 1988 constitution.
The Supreme Court will decide soon
When he took office in December, Lula promised to deviate from Bolsonaro’s policies and announced that he would work actively to protect indigenous people and the Amazon rainforest. He also spoke out against Marco Temporal. The Supreme Court has been analyzing the applicability of the thesis for years. A decision will be made in June.
Lula’s signature took place at the traditional indigenous meeting “Terra Livre”, which was attended by about 6,000 indigenous people in the capital Brasilia. A total of about 900,000 indigenous people live in Brazil in about 300 tribes.