If the time frame thesis wins at the Supreme Court (STF), more than a hundred indigenous lands in the states of the Northeast, Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo run the risk of having their regularization processes reversed. Among them, the traditional indigenous land of Barra Velha do Monte Pascoal, which encompasses the iconic mountain of the same name, described by the Portuguese as the first portion of land seen by the fleet commanded by colonizer Pedro Álvares Cabral, in April 1500.
Currently inhabited by Indians of the Pataxó ethnic group, this region is part of the largest pocket of preserved Atlantic Forest in northeastern Brazil. There are about 112,000 hectares of reserves, including the national parks of Monte Pascoal, Pau-Brasil and Descobrimento, which cover the coast of the extreme south of Bahia, according to information from the National Institute of National Historical and Artistic Heritage (Iphan). The three main areas occupied and claimed by the Pataxó add up to more than 80,000 hectares where around 7,000 indigenous people live. Much of the areas of two of these national parks, Monte Pascoal and Pau Brasil, are located in the original lands of the Pataxó.
These are initiated and unfinished processes, already with proven identification, but without the declaratory ordinance of demarcation. The time frame argument limits the recognition of indigenous lands to proof of occupation before 1988, when the current Federal Constitution was enacted. The thesis is rejected by indigenous peoples, jurists and anthropologists, who fear losing their traditionally occupied territories. During this week, while the STF ministers began to analyze a process that will give general repercussion on the validity or not of this thesis, more than six thousand indigenous people from all over the country set up camp in an area close to the Esplanada dos Ministérios, in the center of Brasília, to press against change of understanding. The mobilization is already being considered the biggest in the last decades.
“This moment is crucial for the Pataxó people, because our territory is in that region where the Portuguese invasion of our country began. Until today, our areas are not demarcated. Our territory in the mother village, Barra Velha, is where it is located. the famous Monte Pascoal. The debate that is being made is whether we are indigenous peoples and our territory already existed before the arrival of the colonizers or whether we came into existence only after non-Indians say we exist”, says Kâhu Pataxó, one of the indigenous leaders who are in the federal capital.
After resuming the trial in the late afternoon of this Thursday (26), the president of the STF, Luiz Fux, suspended the session, which will return to the agenda next Wednesday (1st). The rapporteur of the case, Minister Edson Fachin, has already given his opinion against the time frame, but he still has to conclude the reading of the vote during the trial, reinforcing his position.
To support debates on the land tenure situation of indigenous peoples, the National Association of Indigenous Action (Anaí) published this week a monitoring of 10 Brazilian states in relation to the progress of demarcation processes. The survey includes all units of the federation in the Northeast, with the exception of Maranhão, which is part of the Legal Amazon, as well as Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo. Of the 224 areas listed, more than 100 are without any regulatory action taken. Only 16 are indigenous lands with completed processes or an approved area, and just over 40 are in the study phase or have a delimited area. Another 43 appear as “regulated”, but this does not mean, according to one of the authors of the study, that they would be free from a review of the process.
“I would say these areas are still threatened because they were regularized in processes that did not take the Temporal Framework into account. If the thesis is approved, it opens a loophole for even these areas to have their processes revised”, analyzes José Augusto Sampaio, anthropologist and university professor, founding partner of Anaí.
Also in Bahia, the Tupinambá de Olivença area – in the region of Ilhéus, Una, São José da Vitória and Buerarema – which also preserves a portion of the original Atlantic Forest, is pending proceedings and could be affected by the validity of the time frame. Among the most important indigenous areas in Bahia, the lands of the Tuxá, Tuxi and Tumbalalá, all in the northern region of the state, in the municipality of Rodelas, on the banks of the São Francisco River, help to preserve one of the most sensitive biomes in the country, the Caatinga. In this case, around three thousand indigenous of these ethnic groups could be affected.
“We don’t accept the time frame until 1988 because it doesn’t make any sense. When the Portuguese arrived here, they themselves reported, in the famous letter by Pero Vaz Caminha, the existence of original peoples. We are originally from the land of Brazil. setback and will do great damage to our indigenous populations in their right to land,” says chief Anselmo Tuxá.
Understand the time frame
In 2009, the government of Santa Catarina filed a claim for repossession against the Xokleng people, who live in the Ibirama-Laklãnõ Indigenous Land, where the Guarani and Kaingang indigenous peoples are also concentrated. In all, there are two thousand inhabitants. The argument was that the indigenous people did not “traditionally” occupy that land, under the terms of article 231 of the Constitution.
In 2019, the plenary of the STF recognized the general repercussions of this case. In other words, the decision will guide the understanding of the other processes involving traditional communities in which the time frame is discussed.
This thesis, defended by ruralists, says that indigenous peoples should only have the right to land if it is proven that they already occupied it on the date of promulgation of the 1988 Magna Carta.
The thesis of the time frame is expressed in opinion 001/2017 of the Attorney General’s Office (AGU), issued during the Michel Temer (MDB) government. The STF’s decision may result in the suspension of this document, which has already made the demarcation of around 30 indigenous lands unfeasible. Another 300 have stalled demarcation processes
Source: BoF Bahia
Edition: Elen Carvalho