The environmental and political situation

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By BENÍCIO VIERO SCHMIDT & LIA ZANOTTA MACHADO*

The strong appeal in favor of the environment and environmental rights can and should be added to the defense of indigenous rights to land demarcation

The environmental issue intensifies. In addition to the drought that causes the depletion of rivers and basins, including the “internal sea” of the Pantanal, threatening power cuts throughout the country, the indigenous presence with the concentration of about 7 thousand indigenous people in Brasília from 177 different peoples, helps to dramatize the heavy environmental situation. The struggle of indigenous peoples is for the non-acceptance of the “time frame”, by the Supreme Court.

In 2017, the Attorney General's Office, responding to pressure from the agriculture and livestock sectors, issued an ordinance establishing that only indigenous peoples who were in their original areas by October 5, 1988 could have their lands demarcated. Thus, all indigenous demands that were no longer in their original territories on that precise date would be excluded, even though they had continued to maintain their traditional ways of organizing life, generally in territories close to those they originated from, from which they had previously been expelled by the Brazilian State.

(In the case of Raposa Serra do Sol in Roraima, the STF understood that the fact that indigenous peoples were present there in 1988 ensured their right to remain there, but made it clear that such thesis dealt exclusively with the specific case, since in the Constitution of 1988, there is no time frame requirement).

The strong appeal in favor of the environment and environmental rights can and should be added to the defense of indigenous rights to land demarcation. The institution of the time frame is being requested and appeals to the immediate interests of agriculture, modern large estates exporting meat and grains and mineral extraction in the search for a larger stock of land. Once the timeframe thesis is accepted, such a decision, if it occurs, can certainly go against their interests in the long term, given the irreparable losses to the environment, especially in view of the continuous increase in global warming.

The lands occupied by primitive peoples (indigenous peoples and quilombolas) have been protected in the last three decades, since, according to FUNAI, only 1,6% of overall deforestation occurred in these areas (12% of the national territory).

In the same sense, the IPEA warns of the lower projection of the product of the agricultural sector still in 2021 (from 2.6% to 1,7%), given the climatic impacts on strategic crops such as corn. All these factors help to accumulate pressure from companies and NGOs – from here and abroad – on the federal government's denialist environmental policy. Now, the Ministry of the Environment has reappeared on the horizon the possibility of services provided by the community itself, with pecuniary remuneration, as a form of conservationism.

The labor mini-reform was approved by the Federal Chamber and awaits approval by the Senate. Some reaction from senators to the three employment incentive programs is expected; either because of the difficulties of implementation without the participation of union entities, especially the Union Centers with extensive experience in work qualification courses in previous governments, or because of the modesty of scholarships to be granted (R$ 125,00). The reform, in our opinion, should be approved as a whole but will not have practical effects.

On the other hand, the Federal Chamber must vote on the possibility of quarantining judges, prosecutors, police and military personnel in view of the possibility of running for election next year. The proposal (Deputy Margarete Coelho, PP-PI) is for a period of five years and approval is expected, but only from 2022; although President Bolsonaro is frontally against such a quarantine.

Furthermore, the political preparations for the 7th of September continue. Declaratory controversies, dramatic actions by the Bolsonarist hordes are expected. Congress and the STF are already forwarding preventive protection requests to the security forces.

*Benicio Viero Schmidt is a retired professor of sociology at UnB and a consultant for Empower Consult. Author, among other books, of The State and urban policy in Brazil (LP&M).

*Lia Zanotta Machado, anthropologist, is Professor Emeritus at UnB. Author, among other books by feminism in motion (Francis).

 

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