The time frame of 1500

Image: Vincent MA Janssen


What if indigenous people had invaded Europe?

Imagine the reader if, by the fate of history, it had not been the Europeans who arrived and invaded the Americas around 1500, inhabited by millions and millions of indigenous peoples, but, on the contrary, these had arrived in Europe and dominated the old continent? What would have happened? It is difficult to predict, but it is possible to think that perhaps the planet Earth (and humanity itself) was not on the verge of collapse and extinction, and the Indians did not need, today, to be fighting to “postpone the end of the world”.

It is likely that the earth would not have been dug up and dug up to extract oil and other minerals, and our planet would not have been so heated! It is likely that the concept of humanity among us would be different, that everyone (humans and non-humans) would be part of “nature”, as Ailton Krenak said, or that humanity would be a condition that extends to what the West formulated as natural beings, animals , inanimate or soulless”. Finally, that we humans belonged to the world, and not that planet earth was something to be appropriated, expropriated, excavated, bled, killed!

However, that is not what happened, the Europeans were the ones who invaded America, brought diseases, sowed war, enslaved, exterminated most of the natives and, finally, took possession of their territory! After that, after a lot of struggle, in some cases, they decided to make certain concessions, reparatory measures, such as giving a piece of land so that the indigenous survivors could live there “according to their customs and traditions”!

However, some of the defenders of the rights of the colonizers insist again, in 2021, that the reparation right must go until only the indigenous people are integrated into the market and into the capitalist and western way of life. Others insist on relativizing the rights of indigenous people, restricting the demarcation of their piece of land only in the case where it was occupied by them in 1988, this is the time frame. A kind of “Copacabana theory”, said by some judge or farmer or judge-farmer, fearing that one day, due to the supposed “unlimited right” of the indigenous people, they could claim the resumption not only of their currently occupied land, but of the once (when it belonged to the Indians) the wonderful land of Rio de Janeiro.

It seems that this Copacabana thesis appeared for the first time in a newspaper in 1950, was taken up again in a STF judgment in 2014, and now reappears in the ruralist discourse in favor of the temporal framework. In a note from the Agricultural Parliamentary Front, in a way of putting pressure and terrorizing the highest court in the country at a time when the appeal is considered with general repercussions (RE 1017365), one can read: “If there is not, in the XNUMXst century , a deadline for demarcations, any area of ​​the national territory may be questioned without any type of compensation, including areas of large metropolises, such as Copacabana, in Rio de Janeiro. The Federal Supreme Court has the opportunity to guarantee legal certainty, with the resolution of conflicts, by balancing the rights of all Brazilian citizens, avoiding excesses in the 'self-demarcation' process, which leads to tension in the countryside.”

Now, dear ruralists, we know that what you really want is to expel the indigenous people from their lands to hire them as day laborers in their fields, you don't need to be scared, because, as the journalist Rubens Valente said, if the “Copacabana theory” always appears to scare the country, it is unsustainable for two basic reasons: no indigenous person claims Copacabana, nor the Praça da Sé in São Paulo;

Dear ruralists, don't want to cloud the debate to disturb indigenous rights! The rejection of the thesis of the “time frame” would in no way lead to the demarcation of all indigenous lands, since for that to happen all would need to go through a long and rigorous legal and administrative process, regulated by decree 1775/96. In general, such processes are only concluded after decades, as I myself already had the opportunity to coordinate two of them at the service of the indigenous peoples and the Brazilian State, as they need to take into account professional studies, historical and field research, notary, and, even , opening up the opportunity for contestation by any person or part of society. In the end, many of them are still brought to justice – and there they drag on for decades!

As can be seen, this is a much more demanding and time-consuming process than the one that is covered by infraconstitutional legislation or the one that is underway in the bills being approved by the national congress (such as PL 2633/20 or PL 490 /07), relative to private property in the rural area, subject to regularization without prior inspection, just by analyzing documents and the occupant's declaration that he follows the environmental legislation. In some cases, there is not even an inspection by the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (Incra), the non-indigenous occupant just say he was in the area before 2008! Well, it goes without saying that this occupation (invasion) was carried out, at least, on an indigenous land (since all of Brazil was Indigenous Land), in many cases on public lands in the form of conservation units or reservations for traditional peoples!

When it is said that the Indians, for full rights over the lands they occupy, need to prove they were present there in 1988, it is legitimate to ask: and when were they violently expelled from their places of habitation and/or were victims of forced displacements? ? Examples? There are hundreds of them, I quote one, the Xokleng, in Santa Catarina, who, from 1850 onwards, were hunted and expelled from their lands by German settlers under the command of Hermann Bruno Otto Blumenau, as written in the book Die If You Must by John Hemming.

Valdelice Tupinambá: “We are the true owners of this Brazil. We were not here [only] in 1988, but since before 1500”.

Eduardo Viveiros de Castro: “The 'thesis' of the temporal framework aims not only to freeze the situation of territorial exploitation of the indigenous peoples recognized by the State in 1988, but also to invalidate the indigenous condition of the peoples who only had it recognized after (and because of) the promulgation of the Constitution”.

Today's ruralists must be envious and feel they are the heirs of Oliveira Viana, TCU minister, member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, who, in the Introduction to the 1920 Census, published by the Ministry of Agriculture in 1922, made a torn praise of the genocide of indigenous peoples, extolling the civilizing work of the bugreiro (indigenous hunter) and the grileiro. Historian Paulo Ignácio Corrêa Villaça (2010) quotes a passage from the book The evolution of the Brazilian people, by Oliveira Viana, in which the author, in the footsteps of defenders of large property, defends the illegal appropriation of land in western São Paulo: “In this work of civilizing conquest of land, the bugreiro overcomes the material obstacle, which is the nomadic Indian, barren inhabitant of the barren forest. There is, however, another legal obstacle, which is the right to property (…). It is up to the grileiro to resolve this difficulty. It is he who will give the progressive colonizer, full of ambitions and capital, the right to exploit this barren treasure. For this he creates, by chicanery and falsehood, the indispensable property title. The ancient bandeirante, preacher of Indians and preacher of land, rude, massive, one-piece, brutal, unfolds by the very condition of the civilized environment in which he rises and becomes insidious bugreiro, eliminator of the useless íncola, and solitary grileiro, highwayman. unproductive estates. Both exercised, however, two essential functions to our work of colonizing expansion: and the ferocity of one and the amorality of the other thus have, to excuse them, the incomparable magnitude of their ulterior objectives”.

*Ruben Caixeta de Queiroz Professor of Anthropology at UFMG.

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