Indigenous camp outside Brazil Congress to talk candidacies

Over 7 thousand people are expected to join the debate

Published in 04/04/2022 - 15:48 By Alex Rodrigues - Brasília

Thousands of indigenous people from various ethnic groups have begun to gather at the Esplanade of the Ministries, the seat of Brazilian government in Brasília, where the 18th edition of the Acampamento Terra Livre (“Free Land Camp”) will take place over the next ten days.

“We have come again to occupy the Esplanade and to paint Brasília with [native dyes] urucum and jenipapo,” Sonia Guajajara, a coordinator with Brazilian indigenous association APIB, declared this morning.

After two years of online activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event is bringing together representatives from more than 200 of Brazil’s 305 indigenous peoples. Over 7 thousand people are expected to participate in the debates, rallies, and ceremonies that will take place until the April 14.

“We bring the strength of diversity, secular resistance, and the indigenous struggle. Our main demand is the demarcation of indigenous territories [claimed] across the country,” Guajajara added, mentioning the slogan of this edition of the event, Retomando o Brasil: Demarcar Territórios e Aldear a Política (“Taking Back Brazil: Demarcating Territories and Bringing the Village into Politics”).

“We’re here to demand from the Brazilian state the resumption of the demarcation of our land. We’re here to say we’re going to bring the village to politics because, if our lives are being decided in Congress and in the Executive Branch, that’s where we have to be,” Guajajara argued as she unveiled one of the goals of the organizations this year: support for indigenous people running for office, especially women.

“APIB is launching an indigenous caucus to join the electoral race. We’re going to stand by this caucus, with our indigenous women, because we seek to guarantee our political representation in institutional politics,” Guajajara went on to say she cited bills that, to the judgment of indigenous and environmentalist leaders, threaten the rights of indigenous people and the preservation of traditional territories.

“In such a hostile [political] landscape, the territorial issue, the demarcation of our territories, has always been the backdrop. There’s still a huge deficit in this connection,” said Marquinhos Xukuru, from APOINME, the indigenous association of the Northeast and the states of Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo.

“We need to occupy other spaces of power,” Xukuru declared, “in order to make sure our voices are heard. They have to understand we need to occupy the legislative assemblies and chambers, as well as the city halls, and that we have the conditions to take up leading roles in politics.”

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Valéria Aguiar

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