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Santiago Navarro F., Renata Bessi and Translated by Miriam Taylor, Truthout | Report

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Representatives of indigenous groups from the five regions of Brazil protest against Bill PEC 215. (Photo: Santiago Navarro F.)Representatives of indigenous groups from the five regions of Brazil protest against Bill PEC 215. (Photo: Santiago

Navarro F.)

Indigenous leaders from the five regions of Brazil traveled for days to an encampment convoked by the Coordinating Body of Brazil's indigenous people (APIB), which took place from April 13 to 16 in the federal district in Brasilia. The district is both a geographical center and a center of power in Brazil, as it is where the three branches of government are headquartered.

For four days and three nights, more than 1,500 indigenous individuals filled one of the gardens in front of the National Congress with colors, music and rituals. Their principal objective was to put pressure on the three branches of government so that the proposed constitutional amendment No. 215 - better known as the PEC 215/2000 - is not passed. This amendment, among other things, would transfer the decision-making power of demarcation of indigenous territories to Brazil's legislative branch. Currently, this type of legal-political decision is in the hands of the executive branch.

"Indigenous people are moving toward complete disappearance. This law will leave us in the hands of the multinational corporations."

Within Brazil's Congress, there is a faction known as the "Rural Legislators," a group of legislators who have transferred jurisdiction over private multinational companies to the legislative branch. Of the 50 members of Congress that make up the special commission that will review the proposed constitutional amendment, PEC 215/2000, at least 20 financed their electoral campaigns with support from big farming, mining and energy firms, as well as from the forestry sector and banks. Among the members of the Rural Legislators group is Agriculture Minister Katia Abreu, a business owner and fierce defender of big agriculture businesses. Another is Luis Carlos Heinze, one of the leaders of the group, who is also the president of the Parliamentary Farming Front (FPA). In 2014, a lawsuit was brought against him by indigenous organizations because he encouraged industrial farmers to use armed guards in order to forcibly remove indigenous people from their land.