Indigenous People Protest Against the Violation of Their Rights in Front of Brasilia Embassies
Indigenous protesters denounce the link between the sourcing of agricultural commodities and the violation of their rights to the international community
- July 12, 2016
- Victor Pires
- Socio-Environmental Institute
Last week's indigenous mobilization in Brasilia – detailed in the following blog from the Socio-Environmental Institute (ISA) – came as a response to the current, alarming and mounting assault on the rights of Brazil's indigenous peoples. This assault, which is manifesting both through attacks on institutional rights and through direct, physical violence and intimidation is driven primarily by the country's powerful agroindustrial sector and its well-organized "ruralista" congressional caucus. The ruralistas are in turn backed by a cabal of agricultural industry groups whose financial power stems from the export of commodities such as soy, sugar, and beef to international traders and ultimately international consumers.
The Brasilia protest articulated an appeal from indigenous leadership to national governments via their Brazilian embassies, demanding that these countries instate a moratorium on importing such commodities until these brazen attacks on indigenous rights, lands, cultures, and security are to cease.
Around 160 indigenous people from various regions of the country, and primarily from Bahia, protested the last week in front of numerous embassies in Brasilia. Their goal was to draw attention of the international community, especially the big buyers of Brazilian agricultural commodities, pointing out the vulnerability of Brazil's indigenous peoples and the link between agricultural production, the purchase of commodities by other countries, and the violation of the indigenous people's rights in Brazil. The group presented a letter (see below) to embassies such as Portugal, Russia, USA, Holland, Canada and France.
"By importing products originating from Brazilian agribusiness, we understand that [the international community] contributes to the strengthening of that sector and, consequently, to the maintenance of the attacks, violence and [rights] violations that we suffer," affirmed the letter written by the indigenous representatives and submitted to embassies.
"Exporting [commodities] helps to finance agribusiness, therefore it finances the genocide of our peoples, it finances the shootings that attack and wound our leaders, and in fact finances the murder of our people," said Kâhu Pataxó, executive secretary of the Indigenous Federation of the Pataxó and Tupinambá Nations of the Extreme South of Bahia (Federação Indígena das Nações Pataxó e Tupinambá).
"This is is an attempt to seek external support, a cry for help to demonstrate that this form of [agricultural] production and of violation of indigenous rights is happening here in Brazil, and even worse, it is generating [agricultural] products commercialized elsewhere," siad Thiago Anacé, coordinator of the Organizations of Indigenous Teachers of Ceará (Organizações dos Professores Indígenas). "Could it be that end consumers really know how the products they purchase are produced here in our country? How many indigenous lands are being invaded, rights violated?" he asked.
The letter contains complaints of attacks against indigenous peoples, such as those attempted against the Guarani Kaiowá in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. Last month, a violent attack led by farmers in the Indigenous Land of Dourados-Amambaipegua I left an indigenous leader dead and five other wounded.
Besides the cases of violence, the indigenous protestors denounced legislative maneuvers that threaten their rights. "They [the ruralista congressional bloc] have designed a strategic process, forwarding Constitutional Amendments (PECs) PECs and proposing bills that eliminate our constitutional rights, and others that don't eliminate them directly, but open gaps," claimed Kâhú Pataxó.
The group of indigenous leaders remained in Brasilia through the week, attending meetings with governmental agencies in order to put forward demands related to landholding regularization and social rights, in addition to staging other actions meant to draw attention on their combat.
Translated by Ana Kuhn