BRASILIA – Dozens of Indians of the Munduruku ethnicity demonstrated on Tuesday in downtown Brasilia to demand the “immediate demarcation” of their lands, where they say the government has plans for a vast hydroelectric project.
Protesters gathered in front of the Justice Ministry, where Indians wearing their native raiment, feather headdresses and armed with bows and arrows, waved posters that read “Demarcation now.”
The Munduruku people live in the Amazonian state of Para and their leaders said that in some of the lands they claim as their own, but whose boundaries have never been officially drawn, the government plans to build at least three hydroelectric dams.
“White men know those lands are ours but don’t respect their limits, which makes demarcation necessary in order to give the Indian people more protection,” Chief Saw Munduruku said.
Numerous groups of Indians protested all last week in Brasilia against measures for a settlement adopted by the President Michel Temer administration and that also form part of a bill in Congress, which aims to change current regulations for demarcating indigenous territories.
The bill would transfer that responsibility, which up to now has been a function of the state-run National Indian Foundation, or FUNAI, to Congress, where groups of legislators exist that represent the interests of big landowners.
According to the Indians, those legislative groups could benefit big landowners seeking ownership of indigenous lands, which has often led to violent conflicts.
A recent report by the Indian Missionary Council (Cimi) of the Catholic Church said that disputes over property left 137 Indians dead in the year 2015 alone.