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Protests Erupt as Brazil Approves Bill Restricting Recognition of Tribal Lands

Outside of São Paulo, protesters blocked a major highway with burning tyres

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Sadaf Hasan
Sadaf Hasan
Aspiring reporter covering trending topics

BRAZIL: The lower house of Brazil’s Congress on Tuesday night approved a bill that would restrict the recognition of new Indigenous reservations, a move that environmentalists and human rights advocates saw as a setback after fierce pressure from the farm lobby.

The measure, which was approved by 283 votes to 155, comes after Indigenous groups barricaded a highway and set fire to tyres to show their opposition early on Tuesday.

Outside of Sao Paulo, the largest city in Brazil, protesters blocked a major highway with burning tyres and used bows and arrows to attack police, who fired tear gas to disperse them.

Nationwide protests by indigenous organisations were scheduled to take place outside Congress in the nation’s capital, Brasilia, for a week.

Bill 490 may have an impact on several of the territories that are being evaluated, but it would not affect any reservations that are currently recognised. Following pressure from Brazil’s strong agriculture lobby, the lower house expedited the bill.

By establishing a reservation, Indigenous groups are given legal safeguards that can prevent unauthorised loggers and land invasions by wildcat gold miners.

These increased significantly under the far-right former president Jair Bolsonaro, who advocated for commercial mining and agribusiness even on recognised reservations.

Indigenous leaders urge President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who beat Bolsonaro in last year’s election, to defend 300 territories that were plotted out years ago but have not yet received official recognition. Last month, six indigenous territories were officially recognised by Lula.

Around 300 different ethnic groups reside on 730 territories that they regard as their ancestral lands, mostly in the Amazon rainforest. The Supreme Court is also debating the issue of tribal land recognition.

The measure still needs to pass the Senate and be signed by Lula. Although he could veto it, there might be enough congressional support to override that.

Also Read: Maharashtra to Institute Bravery Award in the Name of Veer Savarkar


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