Brazil: Top Court Rules in Favor of Indigenous Land Rights

    Brazil: Top Court Rules in Favor of Indigenous Land Rights
    Last updated Sep 23, 2023
    Image credit: Wikimedia commons


    • On Thursday, Brazil's Supreme Court ruled in favor of restoring the Xokleng community's rights to their ancestral lands.
    • In the lawsuit, the state of Santa Catarina had argued that the Indigenous group in the area only had rights to land it physically occupied before the Brazilian constitution was announced in 1988 — a legal thesis called "marco temporal."
    • However, the top court voted 9-2 to reject "marco temporal," or what rights groups had dubbed the "time limit trick," as unconstitutional.
    • Overwhelmingly rejecting the thesis, the court noted that areas "linked to the ancestry and tradition of Indigenous peoples have constitutional protection, even if they are not demarcated."
    • Celebrating the ruling, multiple Indigenous leaders said that the top court's decision could safeguard their communities from land mafia, illegal loggers, and wildcat gold miners.
    • The case was brought by the Xokleng tribe, one of the Indigenous groups driven by the state from their ancestral lands in 2009, reportedly because they didn't live there in 1988 and had no land rights.


    Narrative A

    The Supreme Court's landmark decision to recognize Indigenous lands as a protected area will resolve hundreds of pending land recognition claims. As the justices gave the lawsuit a "general repercussion" status, the ruling will serve as a precedent for all instances of justice involving Indigenous groups. The battle is won, but not the war: The fight for Indigenous territories and rights in Brazil continues.

    Narrative B

    While Indigenous communities must be protected, industries vital to the nation must also be considered. These decisions will affect private farms and tobacco growers, which will have a domino effect on timber, mining, and agriculture — and the nation's economy as a whole. Greater efforts must be made to bridge the difference between Indigenous communities and agribusiness.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 26% chance Brazil will reach net zero deforestation before 2031, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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