Brazilian church agency welcomes court decision on indigenous lands

Follow-up call for action of August 18 from Becky Spires. Becky’s ministry is at the Indigenous Missionary Council.

SAO PAULO, Brazil (CNS) — A Brazilian bishops’ agency welcomed a Supreme Court ruling to maintain nearly 4.2 million acres in northern Brazil as a reservation for indigenous people. The Indigenous Missionary Council, known by its Portuguese acronym as CIMI, congratulated all of the indigenous populations of Brazil for “another historic victory in the consolidation of the process of the rights of indigenous territories.” By a 10-1 vote, the court ruled in mid-March to keep as contiguous land the indigenous territory known as Raposa-Serra do Sol (Fox-Sun Mountain), an area surrounded by Venezuela and Guyana and home to nearly 20,000 Indians. The indigenous territory was established by a presidential decree issued in 2005. The missionary council also called for the immediate withdrawal from the land of nonindigenous people, such as rice farmers, as stipulated by the court. Although nonindigenous people are not allowed on the land, the court said the Brazilian military may enter the land to defend the country. In addition, the court said, indigenous peoples must get government authorization to explore the territory’s minerals.