Thousands of indigenous people from across Brazil Tuesday marched in downtown Brasilia, the country’s capital, to demand government protection of their land and rights against invaders. The march is part of the 19th Free Land Camp, an annual demonstration by indigenous peoples that lasts days and includes individuals from all over the country who travel to the capital to demand the government recognize their land and rights.
The focus of the demonstration this year is the demarcation of indigenous lands. Through this process, protesters want the government to define what land belongs to indigenous peoples by creating clear borders. Defined land rights would allow secure legal rights over the land, protesters argue. Protesters are also focused on the ongoing invasion of their land by illegal miners and loggers, which are contributing to deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and causing cultural and safety issues for indigenous people.
“The demarcation of Indigenous Lands is an ancestral right provided for in the Federal Constitution,” Dinamam Tuxá, executive coordinator of the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), said in a statement. “Those who invade an Indigenous Land destroy forests and attack indigenous people, who have been fighting for the protection of their families, cultures, and lands for over 500 years.”
In January, Brazil’s Minister of Justice and Public Security Flavio Dino said he would open an investigation with the Federal Police into the alleged genocide perpetrated against the Indigenous Yanomami people of the Amazon. The investigation stems from allegations that the right-wing government of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro perpetrated the genocide and reports of widespread humanitarian crisis in Yanomami territory. Demarcation, protesters at Tuesday’s event argue, would help further prevent similar crimes from occurring.