According to the Brazilian Constitution, Indigenous Peoples’ have the rights to their traditional land. However, for years, those who want to profit off of the destruction of the Amazon and other vital ecosystems in Brazil have been trying to use a loophole that would allow them to question whether Indigenous People actually had the rights to their territories unless it can be proven that they occupied them at the time of Brazil’s 1988 constitution. This would be a major setback that would risk the life of every Indigenous People in the country, as many of them were pushed out or had to leave their territories when the country was colonised, and were only recently able to return to their original lands.

Indigenous People Against the Marco Temporal in Brasilia, Brazil. © Pedro Ladeira / Greenpeace
Indigenous Peoples from all over the country are mobilizing in Brasília to follow the judgment of the Marco Temporal by the Supreme Court (STF). © Pedro Ladeira / Greenpeace

This loophole, called Marco Temporal in Portuguese, was on trial in the Brazilian Supreme Court since 2019 and the judges have finally voted against it and in favor of Indigenous Peoples in the country. This is a major win for Indigenous People and civil society, who have been mobilising and supporting the fight for their rights. This is also an important win in the fight against the global climate and biodiversity crisis, as Indigenous Territories are vital for the protection of the Amazon forest.

However, we must continue fighting. Conservative lawmakers in Brazil, knowing about the risk of the Supreme Court landing on the right side of history, are trying to push a project law with similar language forward in the Senate. The language in this bill is similar to the one the judges just voted against, but includes an extra layer of threat to Indigenous People. The bill would also allow Indigenous Territories to be opened up for destructive industries, such as mining, an activity that has exploded in the Amazon in recent years and has been devastating to the livelihoods of Indigenous People in Brazil.

Indigenous Leaders from Brazil attend the Marco Temporal Judgment in Brasilia. © Pedro Ladeira / Greenpeace
Chief Raoni and other Indigenous Leaders attend the Marco Temporal Trial at the Supreme Court in Brasília, Brazil. © Pedro Ladeira / Greenpeace

This is the opposite of what Brazil and the world needs right now. The country has the opportunity to be a global climate leader by ensuring the protection of Amazon and Indigenous Rights. We are already seeing the climate crisis unfold before our eyes, with millions of people being impacted around the world. We don’t need more nature destruction. We need an economic model that is not based on the devastation of the forest and the lives of Indigenous People but is based on the coexistence with a standing forest. 

We must keep pushing against the setbacks the Brazilian Congress continues to present, and ensure Indigenous Peoples rights are protected.