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Article

7 May 2024

Author:
Mongabay

Brazil: Indigenous territories are facing threats after law proposal vowing to reduce the areas in favour of local cattle ranchers and farmers

Mongabay

"Indigenous leader’s killer is convicted in Brazil, but tensions over land remain", 07 May 2024

...On April 17, 2020, an Indigenous leader who fought to protect his ancestral land was violently killed in the Brazilian state of Rondônia. Almost exactly four years later, a local bar owner has been convicted and sentenced to 18 years in prison for Ari Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau’s murder. The ruling marks a rare case of justice for violence against Indigenous land defenders, even as conflicts over traditional territories in Brazil persist.

On April 15 this year, a court in Rondônia convicted João Carlos da Silva for double aggravated homicide of the Indigenous land defender and teacher — meaning the murder was intentional, the motive was frivolous, and defense was impossible for the victim. According to court records, Silva had offered Ari drinks at his bar until he became unconscious, before then killing him with blows to the neck and head and taking his body to a different location and leaving it by the side of a road in order to hinder the investigation...

The crime was originally thought to have been related to Ari’s work in land and environmental surveillance, but the Federal Police ruled out a link between the murder and land defense. Instead, they concluded that Silva knew Ari and killed him due to a dislike of the victim and being bothered by his presence. However, family members and those who knew Ari continue to suspect that he was killed for defending Indigenous territory. Ari was part of an Indigenous surveillance team that defended the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau land from constant invasions by land grabbers and cattle ranchers...

Ari’s death remains emblematic of the threat that land grabbers continue to pose to Indigenous territories across Brazil. In January, authorities evicted 50 invaders from the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau Indigenous Territory. Yet soon after, the invaders returned, according to Indigenous activist Ivaneide Bandeira Cardozo, known as Neidinha Suruí, as reported in a government statement...

One of the major factors driving these invasions of the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau land, as well as other traditional territories, is the “time frame” proposition (known as marco temporal in Portuguese) that was approved by Congress and written into law in December last year — despite being considered unconstitutional by the Supreme Court weeks earlier. It bars Indigenous people from claiming the rights to land that they didn’t physically occupy as of the cutoff date of Oct. 5, 1988, the date Brazil’s Constitution was promulgated...