You can read this story in Portuguese at Greenpeace Brazil’s website.

© Christian Braga / MNI
Sônia Guajajara at the Indigenous Peoples Free Land Camp 2019 in Brazil © Christian Braga / MNI

The world has been witnessing how fragile life is in the face of unforeseen events imposed by nature. The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, among the many painful lessons it forced us to learn, raises a new alert for humanity: Mother Earth must be taken care of. And there is nothing more to wait for. The point of no return is a reality, and we are close to it. Destroying biodiversity can bring new pandemics to the foreground. Indigenous Peoples have been warning of this for a long time. As Native Peoples, we know that human life cannot exist apart from the other forms of life harbored by Nature. To insist on the planet’s predatory economic models is to take the risk that none of us will be here tomorrow.

 Since being invaded by the Portuguese and all the following European colonial disputes over our territories in Brazil, Indigenous Peoples have learned to relate to the white men’s world. We had to understand how their way of thinking, their language, and their laws work. And we learned that the written word must be used to fight over our rights. In the white men’s justice system, we fight to enforce the Brazilian Federal Constitution, which protects the Indigenous rights in harmony with social and environmental rights. It is possible to live in communion with every being that inhabits this Earth. Therefore, to once again defend life and nature, the Articulation of Indigenous People of Brazil (APIB) went to Brazil’s Federal Supreme Court to fight for the protection of the Brazilian Amazon.

 We built the case with Artigo 19, Conectas Human Rights, the National Council of Extractive Populations (CNS), Engajamundo, Greenpeace Brazil, Instituto Alana, Socio-Environmental Institute (ISA), Observatório do Clima, and Associação Alternativa Terrazul. To give support and make it viable, given the stipulations of Brazilian law to reach the Supreme Court, the political parties PSB, Rede, PDT, PV, PT Psol, and PCdoB all made themselves available to file the case. This is a means of asking the Constitutional Court to compel the Brazilian State to fulfill its legal and constitutional role: to defend Brazil’s environment. 

 We ask for the obvious: they take care of our home – the trees, forests, and waters. There is our home and also the home of our ancestors. There is the home of the animals and our spirits. There, lives the immensity of life that ensures that this Earth is inhabited. Indigenous Peoples have long fought for the right to exist. The time has come for the white men to understand that they also need to be part of the solution so that there is a tomorrow.

Sônia Guajajara is a Brazilian Indigenous leader, Executive Coordinator from APIB (Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil).

Learn more about the climate litigation lawsuit filed against the Brazilian government here.