Justice Approves Huge Indigenous Reservation In Brazilian Amazon
By Dialogo March 23, 2009Ten of the eleven judges of the highest court in Brazil gave the go-ahead for the creation of a huge indigenous reserve in the Amazon, covering an area equivalent to over half of Belgium, despite the protests of the white ranchers who live there and want more land. The trial has not ended, and the eleven judges should now set the deadline for white landowners to leave the reservation and decide whether to put additional conditions on the area, such as allowing the Armed Forces free access and the establishment of an environmental park. The Raposa Serra do Sol reservation occupies 17,000 acres in the state of Roraima, which shares a border with Venezuela, and has a population of 19,000 members of five indigenous ethnic groups. In dispute for over three decades, the reservation was created by the government in 2005, when the state gave farmers a year to leave the area. But in 2008, a police eviction operation was suspended at the request of the justice, who decided to examine the case. Roraima’s authorities claim that rice production in the reserve accounts for 7% of its GDP, and that the indigenous reservation occupies more than 40% of the state, plus another 26% designated for areas of protected environment. Several dozen aborigines closely followed the trial in the Brazilian supreme court, dressed in their traditional clothes: naked torsos, paint, and feathers. They were awaiting the definitive conclusion of the trial and the official proclamation of the result. The demarcation of the reserve is a "debt of the country’s ancestors to the indigenous inhabitants,” Judge Ellen Gracie stated. The decision of the STF is the key to the future of the country's indigenous policy, which recognizes 12% of its territory for such reserves.