Recognition of Indigenous Lands in Raposa Serra do Sol, Brazil

After decades of repression and struggle for their rights, the indigenous communities of Reposa Serra do Sol obtained the recognition of their territory in 2005. Still, the defense of their land and human rights remains a hot matter.

<div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Description</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld"></td><td class="columns"><div class="less">The indigenous people of Raposa Serra do Sol (the Makuxi, Wapichana, Tuarepang, Ingarik and Patamana communities) have fought for 30 years in order to restore and protect their rights to ancestral lands, threatened by fazendeiros and garimpeiros (cattle breeders, rice producers and gold hunters), who have exploited and occupied their lands for centuries.</div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none">Land grabbing is coupled also with military deployment. Under the guise of reinforcing Brazilian army presence on its borders, military presence on indigenous lands goes together with recurrent violent repression of the communities [1 & 2]. <br/><br/>Native people reacted against violations of their Constitutional right to live in territories that cannot be seized, an essential requirement for self-determination. During the General Assembly Tuxauas in 2002 the indigenous communities' leaders pinpointed to the diverse activities penetrating their terriroty without their consent and threatening its integrity and precarious equilibrium, amongst which the illegal gold mining, landowners, the construction of a military compound in Uiramutà (and the Calha Norte military program), an electricity grid etc... On top of that, two national parks (Monte Roraima and Serra Da Mocidade) prevent the indigenous communities to have an exclusive access to the natural resources [6]. Gathered at the General Assembly Tuxauas in 2002, the indigenous communities called in an open letter to the authorities for the official delimitation of their territory. Such advancement would legally protect Raposa Serra do Sol from outsiders’ settlers. This is done in 2005 by Lula’s presidential decree, which recognizes Raposa Serra do Sol territorial continuity and by doing so also grants indigenous communities’ autonomy and implies landowners’ evacuation of the area. <br/><br/>Still the Roraima State federal government and the landowners appealed to the Supreme Court, contesting the delimitation of Raposa Serra do Sol as an indigenous territory. By the beginning of 2009, the Supreme Court satisfied the indigenous communities’ land rights. Nevertheless the Supreme Court decision was followed by 19 conditions which restrict those very same rights. Indeed, in case of natural resources found on their territory, the communities don’t have to be consulted [3]. The argument for such way of proceeding is to place the national sovereignty principle as a priority on top of indigenous’ rights.<br/><br/>In 2013, a gathering in Borro, Raposa Serra do Sol, commemorated the Supreme Court decision of 2009. It was also the opportunity to protest against the proposed constitutional amendment (PEC) 215 [4]. The amendment would have transferred the power decision to demarcate indigenous lands from FUNAI to the Congress, rendering new recognitions of land much more difficult. The (PEC) 215 raised strong, broad and nation-wide contestation. It was finally rejected by the end of 2015 [5]. <br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Basic Data</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Name</td><td>Recognition of Indigenous Lands in Raposa Serra do Sol, Brazil</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Country</td><td><a href="/country/brazil">Brazil</a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Province</td><td>Roraima</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Site</td><td>Reposa Serra do Sol</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Accuracy of Location</td><td>MEDIUM regional level</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Source of Conflict</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (1st level)</td><td>Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture and Livestock Management)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (2nd level)</td><td>Deforestation<br /> Mineral ore exploration<br /> Land acquisition conflicts<br /> Military installations</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Specific Commodities</td><td><a href='/commodity/land'>Land</a></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Project Details and Actors</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Details</td><td class="columns"><div class="less">Indigenous leaders have been murdered since 1970 seeking for the recognition of their land. The deforestation occurred in these lands is of an equivalent of 22,000 hectares. </div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none">The Roraima State extension is of 22,411,800 hectares, out of which it is demarcated as indigenous territory an area of 10,311,679 hectares. The participation of indigenous territory in Reposa Serra do Sol is of a 7.8% while the indigenous population is of 46,309 out of 394,493 in Reposa Terra do Sol. <br/><br/>Today Raposa Serra do Sol Reserve is the second largest in Brazil in extension (1.7 million hectares) and the most populous with 17.000 inhabitants [3]. <br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Project Area (in hectares)</td><td>10,311,679</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Population</td><td>Rural</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Start Date</td><td>10/1970</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Relevant government actors</td><td>Government of Brazil, Government of the Roraima State - Brazil, Ministy of Defense - Brazil, FUNAI (Brazil’s indigenous affairs department)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">International and Financial Institutions</td><td><a href='/institution/inter-american-commission-on-human-rights'>Inter- American Commission on Human Rights </a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Environmental justice organisations and other supporters</td><td>Makuxi Indigenous People - Brazil, Wapichana Indigenous People - Brazil, Tuarepang Indigenous People - Brazil, Ingariko Indigenous People - Brazil, Patamana Indigenous People - Brazil, Roraima Indigenous Council (CIR), Sociedade de Defesa dos Indígenas Unidos de Roraima (SODIUR), Rainforest Foundation</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">The Conflict and the Mobilization</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)</td><td>MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">When did the mobilization begin</td><td>In REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Groups Mobilizing</td><td>Farmers<br /> Indigenous groups or traditional communities<br /> Local ejos</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Forms of Mobilization</td><td>Blockades<br /> Involvement of national and international NGOs<br /> Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism<br /> Street protest/marches<br /> Property damage/arson<br /> Strikes</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Impacts</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Environmental Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Desertification/Drought, Groundwater pollution or depletion</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Health Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Deaths<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Other environmental related diseases</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Socio-economic Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Outcome</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Status</td><td>Stopped</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Pathways for conflict outcome / response</td><td>Criminalization of activists<br /> Deaths<br /> Land demarcation<br /> Court decision (victory for environmental justice)<br /> Violent targeting of activists<br /> Application of existing regulations<br /> In 2010 it was reported that invading rice growers had left the indigenous demarcated land in Raposa/Serra do Sol, in Roraima, rice production had gone back.</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Development of Alternatives</td><td>To accept the recognition of the single continous territory of the indigenous population fo Reposa Serra Do Sol and displace all of the non indigenous population out of that land, as well as their non indigenous practices that affect their lifestyles and the environment.</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Do you consider this as a success?</td><td>Not Sure</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Why? Explain briefly.</td><td>Even though the territory has been finally recognized, the environmental and social impacts have been too strong and not compensated. </td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Sources and Materials</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Legislations</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Brazilian 1988 Constitution (art. 231) and previous Constitution:<br />Gold prospecting by a third party on indigenous lands is forbidden.<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Law 6001<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Decree in 2005 recognizing Reposa Serra Do Sol as a single continous territory, implying it is an autonomous indigenous territory<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Supreme Court Decision on December 10th, 2008 confirm the decree from 2005<br/></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">References</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Amazzonia co yvy ore retama. Giulio Rizzo, 2006<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Terras Indígenas e Unidades de Conservação - O desafio das sobreposições<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Terra: Reforma agraria e direitos territoriais<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> [1] CIR Denounces Military Maneuvers And Illegal Arrest in the Raposa/Serra do Sol Indigenous Land, Cimi, News Letters n°490, 2001<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Amazonia Um Brasil a parte. Edgard Santos, Taba Cultural, 2003<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> La freccia e il fucile L'Amazzonia nelle mire della globalizzazione. Zaccaria Silvia, EMI, 2003<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> General Assembly of the Tuxaua, organized by the Indigenous Council of Roraima, 2002<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Uiramutã village resists threats of the Army, Cimi, New letters n°503, 2002<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> [6] Tuxauas General Assembly, 2002 (in italian)<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> [3] Illegal mining on the Raposa Serra do Sol indigenous land (RR), CETEM<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> [2] Formal Request to Initiate Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedures To Avoid Immediate and Irreparable Harm To the Indigenous Peoples of Raposa Serra Do Sol, Brazil, And Follow-Up on Brazil’s State Party Report, 22/06/2006<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Povos indigenas no Brasil<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Sem fazendeiros, produção de arroz na Raposa/Serra do Sol retrocede a patamar de oito anos atrás, 05/05/2010<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Índios da Raposa Serra do Sol, Survival<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Riconoscimento terre indigene – Raposa Serra do Sol, CDCA<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> [4] Direitos são garantidos para povos da Terra Indígena Raposa Serra do Sol, Maurício Hashizume, 25/10/2013<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Projeto Calha Norte (in Portuguese)<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> [5] Não a PEC 215! Proposed change to Brazil’s constitution would leave indigenous peoples “in the hands of the multinational corporations”, C. Lang, 15/07/2015<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other Documents</td><td><table><tr><td><p><strong>Commemoration of the 2009 Supreme Court decision</strong> Barro, Raposa Serra do Sol, 2013, ReporterBrasil, Maurício Hashizume<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Meta Information</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Contributor</td><td>Lucie Greyl and Camila Rolando Mazzuca</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Last update</td><td>18/01/2016</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div>