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Brazil's Supreme Court protects Indigenous land rights
Sept. 22, 2023
Brazil’s Supreme Court blocked efforts to restrict Indigenous land rights, in a landmark decision yesterday. Nine of the court’s 11 members voted against what rights groups had dubbed the “time limit trick,” which would have prevented Indigenous communities claiming land they did not physically occupy in 1988.
The regulation, backed by the country’s powerful agricultural lobby, would have invalidated scores of legitimate claims for the delimitation of Indigenous lands, from groups who had already been evicted from their ancestral lands or whose presence had yet to be recognized at the cut-off date, reports the Guardian. particularly during Brazil’s two-decade military dictatorship. Advocates said the limit not account for expulsions and forced displacements of Indigenous populations, particularly during Brazil’s two-decade military dictatorship, reports the Associated Press.
Indigenous groups protesting against the proposed deadline for land claims celebrated the court decision, dancing and chanting outside the Supreme Court in Brasilia, reports Reuters.
The case was brought by the Xokleng, Guarani and Kaingang peoples of the Ibirama-Laklano indigenous reservation in southern Brazil, part of which lost protected status when a lower court ruled the groups were not living on the land in question in 1988.
Indigenous activists had dubbed the case the "trial of the century." Brazil's constitution makes no mention of a cutoff date in relation to Indigenous reservations, which currently cover 11.6% of Brazil's territory, notably in the Amazon. Numerous studies have found protected Indigenous reservations are one of the best ways to fight deforestation and, with it, climate change, reports AFP.
The ruling comes as Congress has been debating legislation that would enshrine the 1988 cutoff date in law. The court decision will give President Luiz Ignácio Lula da Silva grounds to veto the bill, according to Reuters.
Brazil's Supreme Court is to begin voting on whether to decriminalize abortion, reports the BBC.
A former close aide to Jair Bolsonaro told police the former Brazilian president met senior military officers last year to discuss a military intervention to overturn the election result after he lost, reports Reuters.
Mauro Cid’s alleged claims– reported by two of Brazil’s most important news outlets, O Globo and UOL – prompted calls for the alleged rightwing conspirators to be brought to justice, reports the Guardian.
Bolsonaro denied the reports. (Associated Press)
EMC ceasefire begins, negotiations scheduled for Oct
Colombia's government and the Estado Mayor Central (EMC), the largest FARC dissident group, announced an immediate, 10-month bilateral ceasefire on Tuesday, and said peace talks will begin in October.
The splinter group, which refused to join a 2016 peace deal between the main FARC group and the government, is believed to have around 3,000 fighters and has recently been active in southwest Colombia, as well as in the provinces of Arauca and North Santander, on the nation’s eastern border with Venezuela, reports the Associated Press.
Colombia's government had suspended a ceasefire with the EMC in May after four Indigenous teenagers who were forcibly recruited by the group were murdered attempting to escape, reports Reuters.
The negotiations are part of the Petro administration’s pursuit of “Total Peace” with the country’s many armed groups, along with programs aimed at social development in communities where they have a stranglehold.
Critics say criminal groups are only taking advantage of ceasefires with the government, but “the idea behind ‘total peace’ is right on the money. You know, let’s look at the social issues behind these conflicts,” said InSight Crime’s Jeremy McDermott told the Associated Press. “The great challenge Petro faces is: How do you talk peace without strengthening these groups?”
Colombian President Gustavo Petro painted a dire picture of the global future in a U.N. General Assembly speech focused on climate change and criticizing leaders’ failure to tackle the issue. He said “the crisis of life” has already begun, as signaled by migration of climate refugees, and warned that in the coming half-century, their numbers will reach 3 billion. (Associated Press, Reuters)
Petro has declared an emergency in the La Guajira region, with a plan focused on promoting renewable energy and addressing long-standing issues of poverty, malnutrition, and water scarcity among the Indigenous communities there, reports Jacobin.
In an interview with Democracy Now, Petro discusses his position on the war in Ukraine, the occupation of Palestine and the need for consistent international norms.
U.S. President Joe Biden faces a “charged political debate, both inside his own party and with Republicans, about how to confront the surge of migration from South and Central America,” reports the New York Times, days after the administration decided to protect half a million Venezuelans in the U.S. from deportation.
Mexico’s immigration system is buckling under a “relentless surge” of people seeking to reach the U.S., and has pushed the country’s authorities to a “hodgepodge” response “ranging from shutting down railways heading north to the busing of people to areas with fewer migrants,” reports the New York Times.
U.S. lawmakers Jim McGovern called for the release thousands of U.S. classified documents relating to the 1989 slaying of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter by an elite army battalion in El Salvador, in an interview with El Faro, drawing parallels with the recent declassification of material related to the 1973 coup in Chile.
Haiti’s government doubled down on the construction of a canal on Haitian soil that would divert water from the Massacre river it shares with the Dominican Republic, in the midst of a spat that has pushed the two countries into conflict.
The Haitian government said on social media that the agriculture ministry is working with a group of Haitians building the canal so that it meets technical standards and ensure it would not negatively affect crops and people living in the nearby Maribaroux plain, which is under a drought, reports the Associated Press. (See yesterday’s post.)
Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader emphasized the need of the international community to respond to Haiti’s crisis in his UN speech this week, in the midst of a spat that pushed his goverment to seal the two countries’ shared border. (Dominican Today)
Kenyan President William Ruto urged the United Nations Security Council to formally back a security support mission to Haiti, which Kenya has shown a willingness to lead, saying the Caribbean country "deserves better from the world." (Reuters, see yesterday’s post.)
Organized crime groups in Mexico have about 175,000 members – making them the fifth-biggest employer in the country, according to new research published in the journal Science. (Guardian) Their increasing penetration in diverse productive activities has turned organized crime into a “dominant economic cartel,” reports El País.
InSight Crime reports on the rise and fall of the Chavista governor of Venezuela’s Zulia state, Omar Prieto, who allegedly sought maintain his grip on power with violence against opponents. After losing in 2021 elections, a comeback is suddenly possible, in the midst of the national government’s stalled negotiations with political opponents and as political violence by pro-regime armed groups is on the rise.
Voces de la Memoria has created a virtual reality experience of Venezuela’s most notorious prison, El Helicoide, based on interviews with dozens of former detainees. “In it, real-life screams of agony recorded by a detainee who smuggled a phone into the prison pierce through a montage of gut-wrenching images,” reports the Washington Post.
“Driven by global scientific consensus that mercury causes brain damage, severe illnesses and birth defects, most of the world’s countries signed a groundbreaking international treaty in 2013 committing themselves to eradicating its use globally. Yet 10 years later, mercury remains a scourge,” reports the New York Times.
A heat wave in South America caps the end of an exceptionally warm winter in the hemisphere. (Washington Post)
Colombia’s Colegio del Cuerpo dance school in Cartagena aims to break the cycle of violence and poverty suffered by so many in the country — aided now by an idyllic forest campus on four hectares of land donated by the city’s government, reports the Guardian.
In Ariel Dorfman’s new novel, “The Suicide Museum,” the legacy of Salvador Allende is entwined with climate change — Washington Post.