Brazil: Xavante territorial rights affirmed following ranchers’ uprising

Brazil’s indigenous affairs agency FUNAI issued a statement July 5 affirming the validity of a May 2010 ruling of the First Regional Federal Tribunal in Mato Grosso state that called for the return of usurped lands of the Xavante indigenous people. FUNAI demarcated the 165,000 hectares as Xavante indigenous territory in 1992, but ranchers and soy producers now in possession of the lands in question challenged creation of the reserve, to be called Mar√£iwatsede, near the towns of Cuiab√° and Alto Boa Vista. The Xavante were pushed from their lands by Brazil’s military government in 1966, and the Mar√£iwatsede area is now one of the most completely deforested areas of the Amazon Basin. When Xavante led by chief Dami√£o Paridzan√© held protests at the Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development last month to pressure for return of their lands, local ranchers in the Mar√£iwatsede territory launched an uprising, blocking roads and burning bridges.

Brazil’s government pledged to return the usurped Xavante lands at the 1992 Earth Summit, but 20 years later has failed to follow through. Paridzan√© said in a letter delivered to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff: “The illegal soy production and cattle ranching in our sacred land are a shame upon our country.” (Di√°rio de Cuib√°, July 15; Outras M√≠dias, July 10; Maraiwatsede blog, July 5; Survival International, June 29; Maraiwatsede blog, June 21)

See our last posts on Brazil and the struggle for the Amazon.

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