Home » Lula creates 2 new indigenous territories in Brazil, bringing the total to 10 in his government

Lula creates 2 new indigenous territories in Brazil, bringing the total to 10 in his government

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Lula creates 2 new indigenous territories in Brazil, bringing the total to 10 in his government

SAO PAULO (AP) — President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced Thursday the creation of two new indigenous territories in Brazil, bringing the total number of new reserves created during his government to 10.

The Cacique Fontoura reserve will be located in the state of Mato Grosso and the territory of Aldeia Velha will be in the state of Bahia. Together they will cover a total area of ​​almost 342 square kilometers (132 square miles).

Speaking at a ceremony in Brasilia, Lula said indigenous peoples should be patient as he seeks to fulfill his promise to create 14 new territories.

Lula’s predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, had encouraged widespread development in the Amazon — legal and illegal — and kept his promise not to demarcate a single centimeter of additional indigenous land.

Lula took office in 2023 and one of his promises was to change that, but indigenous rights activists had hopes he would do so more quickly. Last year he demarcated six territories in April and another two in September.

During his speech, the president said that the two new territories will be insufficient. He mentioned that the delay in setting aside additional land is due to legal issues.

“I know that you are a little worried because you were expecting six indigenous territories. We decided to authorize two, and that frustrated some of our friends,” Lula said, standing next to his Minister of Indigenous Peoples, Sônia Guajajara, who was wearing a traditional headdress of yellow feathers. “I did this so I wouldn’t lie to you. It is better to solve the problems instead of just authorizing it.”

The four indigenous territories that are planned and that were not authorized are occupied by farmers who have property rights over those lands, the Brazilian government indicated.

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Indigenous leader Dinamam Tuxá told reporters he was “partially happy.”

“Each new indigenous territory is a victory,” said Tuxá.

Last year, Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled to enshrine indigenous land rights in a case brought by farmers seeking to prevent indigenous people from expanding the size of their land claims.

The highest court rejected a legal theory arguing that the date of promulgation of Brazil’s Constitution—October 5, 1988—should be the deadline by which indigenous peoples had to have physically occupied the land or be fighting a legal battle to reoccupy it.

Several legislators in Brazil’s National Congress are still trying to revive that theory and include it in a bill.

Indigenous rights groups argued that the concept of the deadline is unfair, as they say it does not take into account the expulsions or forced displacements of indigenous populations, especially during Brazil’s military dictatorship, which lasted two decades.

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