Indian reservation cleared of farmers

As a follow-up to two previous stories about indigenous rights at Raposa Serra do Sol, here’s what should be the happy ending.

“It follows a landmark ruling by the country’s Supreme Court that the Raposa Serra do Sol reservation should be solely for indigenous people.

The non-indigenous rice farmers and farm workers say they are victims of “legalised robbery”.

But the authorities say they will be properly compensated.

In March, Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled that the area in the northern border state of Roraima should be maintained as a single continuous territory exclusively for use by the indigenous population.

The decision was hailed as a major victory for indigenous rights, and was also regarded as setting an important precedent for future court cases.

However, the ruling was also a defeat for the non-indigenous rice producers and farm workers who lived and worked in the area, and who said their removal would undermine the economy of Roraima.

Around 300 police and soldiers are now reported to have begun an operation to remove any remaining rice producers and farm workers from the 1.7 million hectare reservation.

There were said to be around 30 non-indigenous families in the reservation as the deadline approached, but the authorities say force will only be used if they meet with violent resistance.

Some of the rice producers have been criticised for destroying farm buildings as they left the area.”

Source (more here)

Possible Precedent for Indigenous Tribes

An Indian of the Amazonian Koruba tribe protests in Brasilia on 10 December

“In one part of the court room, in among lawyers, politicians and other activists, sat members of Brazil’s indigenous tribes – some dressed in traditional headgear with tribal paint on their faces.

On the other, a group of rice farmers and their leaders – less distinctive in their clothing but, it seemed, no less determined.

Map showing location of reserve

Both groups were there to hear Brazil’s Supreme Court deliver a landmark decision over the rights of the country’s indigenous people.

The court had been asked to rule on whether an indigenous reservation, which stretches over 1.7m hectares (4.2m acres) in the Amazonian state of Roraima, should remain a single unbroken territory.

The area, known as Raposa Serra do Sol, which translates roughly as “land of the fox and hill of the sun”, is home to up to 20,0000 indigenous people and was declared an official indigenous reservation in 2005.

Indian leaders viewed the case as setting a crucial precedent regarding the protection of their rights and ancestral lands, with implications for all of Brazil’s indigenous communities.

Their fear, they said, was that a ruling against them would be a signal to land grabbers, prospectors and loggers that it would be acceptable to invade their territory.

An adverse judgement would also create a set of “islands”, weakening the whole concept of an indigenous community, they said.”

The rest of the article can be seen here at BBC.