On Thursday (09/21), Brazil’s Supreme Court reached a majority decision to reject Marco Temporal, a pernicious legal argument that translates as a “Time Limit” on Indigenous peoples’ land rights. The thesis, backed by lawmakers linked to agribusiness, asserted that Indigenous peoples are only entitled to lands they physically occupied during the 1988 signing of the Constitution, officially striking from records the brutal decades of forced displacement during Brazil’s long dictatorship in the years leading up to 1988.
As the results were announced, Indigenous communities around Brazil erupted into celebration, filling the central plazas of state capitals with music and dancing. The court decision marks a significant victory for Indigenous peoples’ rights. However, it doesn’t signify the end of the struggle to guarantee the ancestral rights of Indigenous territories, as multiple threats are still circulating within the Senate, such as Bill 2903. In addition to heralding open season for would-be extractivists, this bill would dissolve protections for Indigenous people living in voluntary isolation.
“This is a victory for Indigenous peoples, as we have fought for years to defeat this thesis which has been halting the demarcation processes. We emerge victorious, but there is still much to combat regarding the threats circulating in the Federal Congress. We remain mobilized and committed, as the fight will persist to ensure and protect the rights of Indigenous peoples,” said Dinamam Tuxá, Executive Coordinator of the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB).
“Today marks a historic stand against erasure and injustice. By rejecting the Marco Temporal, Brazil’s Supreme Court has affirmed the inalienable rights of Indigenous peoples and recognized their essential role as guardians of our planet’s most crucial ecosystems. This is more than a victory for Brazil’s Indigenous communities; it’s a win for the Amazon, the planet, and our common future. Today, the world has been reminded that in the face of climate change, defending Indigenous territorial rights, honoring forest guardians, and adopting a long-term vision are our most potent tools. Together, we celebrate this important victory and recommit to our shared mission: championing Indigenous rights and protecting the Amazon rainforest” – Suzanne Pelletier, Executive Director of Rainforest Foundation US.