A Step Forward for Territorial Rights in Brazil
Grassroots International is excited to share some positive news coming from our grantee allies in Brazil, the Federation of the Huni Kui people of the State of Acre (FEPHAC). After 22 years of struggle by the Huni Kui people for the legal demarcation of their ancestral territory, Brazil’s Federal Public Ministry has filed a public civil action ordering the public body responsible for demarcation, FUNAI, to conclude necessary steps in the demarcation process.
This is a big deal because the “demarcation” (or marking out) of Indigenous land is an essential administrative step toward the official recognition of the territorial rights of Indigenous Peoples in Brazil. In the absence of legal recognition and protection, the territory of Huni Kui people has been subjected to illegal land grabbing, deforestation, burning, logging and hunting, among other violations. With this recent ruling, FUNAI has 180 days to identify and remove illegal squatters from the area in question and 45 days to resume the demarcation process. The ruling also includes compensation for collective damage to the Huni Kui people.
This move by the Brazilian government marks a significant shift from the blatantly anti-Indigenous policies of Brazilian ex-President Jair Bolsonaro and comes on the heels of major mobilizing by Indigenous movements across the country in recent years.
Chief Ninawá, president of FEPHAC, has expressed that “This action brings hope to future generations and children… We are very hopeful that justice will be done and that we will have good results from a long-suffering struggle of the last 22 years.”
At the same time, Ninawá and others are under no illusion that this will be an easy process and are gearing up for the struggle ahead. Please stay tuned for ways that we can be in solidarity with the Huni Kui people at this critical moment.