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Indigenous leaders march against the Time Frame bill in Brazil Photo Antônio Cruz Agência Brasil 16x9

Indigenous leaders march against the 'Time Frame' bill in Brazil. Photo: Antônio Cruz/Agência Brasil

September 29, 2023

The Fight Against the ‘Time Frame’ Bill is Not Over for Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples

Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples face persistent threats to land rights despite the Brazilian Supreme Court striking down the ‘Time Frame’ thesis.

On September 21st, Indigenous Peoples of Brazil enjoyed a significant victory in a longstanding fight for their rights. The Brazilian Supreme Court rejected the ‘Time Frame’ thesis, also known as ‘Marco Temporal,’ which would endanger Indigenous ancestral land guardianship by limiting land demarcation to territories occupied in 1988.

Less than one week after the Supreme Court's decision in favor of Indigenous Peoples’ rights, the Brazilian Senate struck back, countering the Supreme Court by approving the ‘Time Frame’ bill (PL 2903/23). This Senate action transforms the Marco Temporal thesis into law, putting already demarcated Indigenous lands at risk and making new Indigenous land demarcations nearly impossible.

The bill directly attacks Indigenous Peoples' lives by reversing their rights, which were achieved after major struggles throughout Brazilian history. The bill’s harmful proposals include reversing the demarcation of consolidated territories, allowing forced contact with Indigenous Peoples in voluntary isolation, and bypassing the obligation to consult Indigenous Peoples before making decisions that may affect them. It also states that Indigenous Peoples could lose their territories if they no longer nurture “unique cultural traits,” among other threats.

“The rushed approval of the bill in the Senate shows that the discussion around Indigenous territories is aimed at profit and greed, and not at the people's or nature's well-being. With this decision, the National Congress is representing the interests of landowners, land grabbers, and large mining companies, not of the people, much less the Indigenous Peoples,” says Nara Baré (Baré People), an Indigenous leader in Brazil and Nia Tero’s Brazil Lead. “It is a decision that perpetuates, without any shame, the genocide that has historically affected Indigenous Peoples in Brazil.”

Brazil’s President, Lula da Silva, can veto the entire ‘Time Frame’ bill or parts of it. However, there are multiple other threats to Indigenous Peoples’ fundamental rights stemming from the conservative Congress aligned with Brazil’s powerful agribusiness. In another political move, opposition senators seek to curb the Supreme Court’s ruling by filing a request to alter the Constitution, essentially eliminating Indigenous rights.

The proposal clearly violates fundamental rights and ignores Brazil’s dark history of violence against Indigenous Peoples. Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples promise to fight back: “With our strength and resistance, we will remain firm in our fight to guarantee our existence and not allow the invisibility and erasure of our history. But we need everyone, regardless of location, to support us and understand that the ‘Time Frame’ thesis concerns not only the lives of Brazil's Indigenous Peoples, but also the well-being of the planet and all humanity,” says Baré.

To support Indigenous Peoples and amplify their voices in the many battles ahead to stop the ‘Time Frame’ thesis, follow @APIB and @COIAB. For more updates on this and other critical issues on Indigenous guardianship, follow @NiaTero.