Acampamento Terra Livre (Free Land Camp)
The 14th Acampamento Terra Livre (ATL) ended on April 28 2017, in Brasília, after five intense days of activities and protests. The event was promoted by the Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (Apib) and more than four thousand indigenous people, from about 200 ethnic groups from all regions of the country, were present. This was the biggest concentration of indigenous ever achieved.
On Tuesday, during the first big demostration of the week, the indigenous were greeted with tear gas and rubber bullets in front of the National Congress Palace. At the police's pumps, the Indians responded with arrows. Protesters were dispersed by the police as they attempted to leave some 200 coffins in the water mirror of the Congress representing indigenous leaders killed in land disputes. Nevertheless, on Thursday, they held another peaceful march in downtown of Brasília to show their indignation against setbacks and threats to their rights.
During this big event, the Brazilian indigenous movement consolidated the unity of its struggles, strengthened the role of women and young people, received the support of other social movements in the country, spread their demands and culture. Tables and working groups discussed, among other issues, the paralysis of indigenous lands demarcations, suspended since the inauguration of the government of Michel Temer, the current president of the Federative Republic of Brazil, in August 2016; the weakening of indigenist public institutions and policies; the thesis of the " Marco Temporal". The latter - one of the main threats to indigenous constitutional rights - proposes an interpretation of the Federal Constitution defining that only those lands held by indigenous people on October 5, 1988, the date of the promulgation of the Federal Constitution, could be considered as traditional lands. Thus, there were not included in the concept of indigenous lands neither those occupied by them in the past, nor those that will be occupied in the future.
Nowadays, the indigenous issue in Brazil is extremely complex. The 1988 Brazilian Constitution recognises indigenous people' right to pursue their traditional way of life and to the permanent and exclusive possession of their "traditional lands", but the process of demarcation and recognition of these lands is moving forward very slowly. Furthermor, since the 1980s there has been a boom in the exploitation of the Amazon Rainforest for mining, logging and cattle ranching. These settlements - in most cases abusive – are devastating the territory and entering violent conflict with the local indigenous population. Finally there is also the whole question of the construction of the big hydroelectric power plants which is impacting enormously the territory and on native populations’ life. For the importance and actuality of these issues, Acampamento Terra Livre has been an important moment for the Indigenous Organizations of Brazil and the struggle for the rights of their people.