BRASILIA – Around 2,000 indigenous people from different Brazilian tribes demonstrated in Brasilia on Tuesday, demanding that the government speeds up the demarcation of their lands.
Some brief clashes with police, sporadic but without major consequences, took place when small groups of the indigenous attempted to enter the parliament building, but the authorities managed to keep them outside.
The police fired tear gas and the indigenous responded by shooting arrows, which later remained stuck in the large gardens surrounding the legislative palace.
In addition to demanding faster demarcation of indigenous lands, the protesters also expressed their rejection against a bill that the Congress is processing, which proposes to alter the regulations that govern the delimitation of those territories.
The decisions on these lands have been made so far by the state-run National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), but if the bill is approved, such responsibility will be transferred to the Congress, where there are groups of parliamentarians representing the interests of the entrepreneurs in rural areas.
The indigenous fear that some parliamentarians could work in favor of large landowners who claim ownership over some indigenous land, an attempt that has often triggered violent conflicts.
According to a recent report by the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), a body linked to the Brazilian Episcopate, throughout last year, 61 people were killed amid conflicts in the Brazilian countryside, 13 of them were indigenous.
To commemorate the indigenous people killed in recent years, protesters left dozens of coffins in front of parliament along with posters calling for the end to violence on their land.
The demonstration was held in the wake of an upcoming meeting of leaders of various ethnic groups across the country, to be held in Brasilia this week.