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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.


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.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Recognition of Indigenous Lands in Raposa Serra do Sol, Brazil
State or province:Roraima
Location of conflict:Reposa Serra do Sol
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Military installations
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

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.

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Project area:10,311,679
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:10/1970
Relevant government actors:Government of Brazil, Government of the Roraima State - Brazil, Ministy of Defense - Brazil, FUNAI (Brazil’s indigenous affairs department)
International and Finance InstitutionsInter- American Commission on Human Rights
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available: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
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Desertification/Drought, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Deaths
Potential: 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
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: 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
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Land demarcation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
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.
Proposal and development of alternatives: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.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Even though the territory has been finally recognized, the environmental and social impacts have been too strong and not compensated.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Law 6001

Supreme Court Decision on December 10th, 2008 confirm the decree from 2005

Decree in 2005 recognizing Reposa Serra Do Sol as a single continous territory, implying it is an autonomous indigenous territory

Brazilian 1988 Constitution (art. 231) and previous Constitution:

Gold prospecting by a third party on indigenous lands is forbidden.

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] CIR Denounces Military Maneuvers And Illegal Arrest in the Raposa/Serra do Sol Indigenous Land, Cimi, News Letters n°490, 2001
[click to view]

[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
[click to view]

[3] Illegal mining on the Raposa Serra do Sol indigenous land (RR), CETEM
[click to view]

[6] Tuxauas General Assembly, 2002 (in italian)
[click to view]

Amazzonia co yvy ore retama. Giulio Rizzo, 2006
[click to view]

Terra: Reforma agraria e direitos territoriais
[click to view]

Terras Indígenas e Unidades de Conservação - O desafio das sobreposições
[click to view]

La freccia e il fucile L'Amazzonia nelle mire della globalizzazione. Zaccaria Silvia, EMI, 2003

General Assembly of the Tuxaua, organized by the Indigenous Council of Roraima, 2002
[click to view]

Amazonia Um Brasil a parte. Edgard Santos, Taba Cultural, 2003

Uiramutã village resists threats of the Army, Cimi, New letters n°503, 2002
[click to view]

[4] Direitos são garantidos para povos da Terra Indígena Raposa Serra do Sol, Maurício Hashizume, 25/10/2013
[click to view]

[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
[click to view]

Sem fazendeiros, produção de arroz na Raposa/Serra do Sol retrocede a patamar de oito anos atrás, 05/05/2010
[click to view]

Povos indigenas no Brasil
[click to view]

Índios da Raposa Serra do Sol, Survival
[click to view]

Riconoscimento terre indigene – Raposa Serra do Sol, CDCA
[click to view]

Projeto Calha Norte (in Portuguese)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Lucie Greyl and Camila Rolando Mazzuca
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:509
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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