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.
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].
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 . 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.
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 . The argument for such way of proceeding is to place the national sovereignty principle as a priority on top of indigenous’ rights.
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 . 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 .