Brazil: indigenous protesters blast land proposal

Some 1,200 Brazilian indigenous activists encircled the Palácio do Panalto, which houses the president’s offices, in Brasilia on Dec. 4 in a continuation of protests against proposals to change the way land is demarcated for indigenous groups. Currently the demarcations are worked out by the government’s National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI), but Congress is considering a measure, Proposed Constitutional Amendment (PEC) 215, which would give other government agencies a role in the process. During the Dec. 4 march a confrontation broke about between some protesters and the Palácio do Panalto security force, which used pepper spray to disperse the group. “Some participants were hospitalized,” an indigenous leader, Marcos Xukuru, told the Brazilian news agency Adital. The marchers then moved on to the Justice Ministry and requested an interview with the minister; they were told he was out of the office. (Adital, Dec. 4)

In other news, Ambrosio Vilhalva, a leader of the indigenous Guaraní, was stabbed to death near his home in the Guyraroká encampment in the southern state of Mato Grosso do Sul, on Dec. 1. Vilhalva was known outside Brazil because of his role in the 2008 film “Birdwatchers.” The police indicated that internal struggles were behind the killing, and the Indigenist Missionary Council (CIMI), a nonprofit connected to the Catholic Church, apparently confirmed this, citing as a factor tensions among the Guaraní caused by their loss of territory. (Adital, Dec. 4)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, December 8.

PEC 215 is the latest of several recent measures that weaken protections of indigenous lands and the Amazon rainforest.