BRASILIA – Thousands of Indians from different tribes gathered this week in Brasilia for a peaceful march on Thursday, this time without their bows and arrows, with which they had confronted police earlier in the week.
The march moved along the Esplanade of the Ministries, a broad avenue where all the top government buildings are located and which was virtually blocked off by the Indians for almost an hour, although no incidents were reported.
Adorned with feathers and most of them with their bodies painted, the demonstrators performed several rituals dedicated to nature and their lands, calling for “peace” and “respect” for those territories.
The protesters made stops in front of the Health, Justice, Education and Environment Ministries, where they delivered assorted documents with various demands to each one of the Cabinet offices.
Just as on Monday, the demonstrators’ main demand was for the government to accelerate the process of defining their territories, along with pressing for greater healthcare assistance.
In addition, as on other occasions, they expressed their rejection of a bill currently passing through Congress that proposes to change the rules governing the delimitation of territories the Indians claim as their own.
The decisions on those lands have been made to date by the state-run National Indian Foundation (Funai), but if the bill were to pass that responsibility would pass to Congress, where groups of lawmakers represent the interests of rural businessmen.
According to the Indians, those groups would favor the large landowners who are demanding the indigenous lands, a situation that has sparked numerous violent incidents in rural Brazil.
According to a recent report by the CPT pastoral land commission, an entity linked to the Brazilian episcopate, so far this year 61 people have been killed in rural conflicts and 13 of them were Indians.
Thursday’s demonstration was staged within the framework of a meeting of tribal leaders from around the country being held this week in the capital, a conference that organizers said drew some 4,000 Indians and had the march as its culminating event.