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Marco Temporal and the Anti-Indigenous Agenda in Bolsonaro's Government

Illustration: Indigenous Lands at Risk

14 Dec 21

Marco Temporal and the Anti-Indigenous Agenda in Bolsonaro’s Government

The case in the Brazilian Supreme Court that will decide the fate of Indigenous Territories in Brazil. What is the “Marco Temporal” (Time Frame Limit) thesis?

The merits of the Marco Temporal trial, currently awaiting to resume at the Brazilian Supreme Court, are based on the thesis of Marco Temporal (time frame limit), an idea led by the agribusiness caucus that defends that indigenous peoples can only claim lands where they were settled on October 5, 1988, the date of the promulgation of Brazil’s Constitution. The agribusiness caucus defends this “restriction” due to the verb “occupy” in art. 231 of the Constitution “The Indians are recognized for their social organization, customs, languages, beliefs and traditions, and the original rights over the lands they traditionally occupy”.

The ruralist argument gained ground in 2017, when the Attorney General of Brazil issued an anti-demarcation opinion (Normative Op. 001/2017) which in general terms, determined that the trial of a specific case of demarcation of Indigenous Land will set precedent for all others. The decision used as an example the trial of Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Territory (TI), in the state of Roraima, in 2009, implying the adoption of the conditions of the case and the thesis of the so-called “time frame”. Even though, years earlier, in 2013, the Supreme Court itself recognized that the judgment served only for that specific case, ruralists continued to use the opinion to bar land demarcations.


How struggle of the Xokleng-Laklãnõ for the right to exist can impact indigenous peoples throughout the country

According to the story published by @ecoa_uol, the National Prosecution Office estimates that there are 27 demarcation processes stalled due to the Attorney General’s measure. The time frame thesis was highlighted again due to the trial of the Civil Action 1100, which deals with the annulment of the demarcation of the TI Ibirama Laklaño, in Alto Vale do Itajaí, in Santa Catarina state. The Supreme Court Judge Edson Fachin, determined that the Supreme Court’s decision will be binding, that is, what is decided for TI Ibirama Laklaño will apply to all other lands, as explained in the article published by @ciminacional.

In addition to the Xokleng-Laklaño the Indigenous territory in question is inhabited by Kaigangs and Guaranis. And now we are going to tell a little about the history of this territory, its peoples and why this case is so symbolic of the absurdity of thinking as 1988 as the reference: 

The Xokleng-Laklaño went through a brutal process of extermination and expulsion. The various subgroups of the Xokleng inhabited the region that is now the state of Santa Catarina for millennia. With the colonization process and the encouragement of European immigration for the whitening of the population by the Brazilian State from 1875 onwards, the massacre began. The extermination was almost total and took place in two ways: through expeditions by ‘bugreiros’, groups of assassins who killed men and kidnapped children and women, following the models of the pioneers, and also through religious groups that kidnapped children in the name of catechization. this dynamics played out until the 1940s and had the objective of “cleaning” the territory for farmers and settlers and occupying “the demographic voids”, which had nothing to do with emptiness. Several subgroups disappeared in this cruel process.

In 1914, the first demarcation took place. Over the years, it has been increasingly shrunk by pressure from farmers, loggers and the state. In the 1980s, the construction of the Norte Dam, to prevent flooding, made the territory even smaller. The 15 K hectares are home to many of the 2,300 Xokleng-Laklaños that survived the genocide, as well as Guarani and Kaingangs. A study by the National Indian agency increased the size of the territory, recognizing the eviction caused by the dam. That’s what will be judged.

“If we weren’t in an area of the territory in 1988 that doesn’t mean it was nobody’s land or that we weren’t there because we didn’t want to. The time frame reinforces historical violence, which even today leaves marks” –Brasílio Priprá, Xokleng leader.

The history of the Xokleng is the history of various indigenous peoples throughout Brazil, such as the Gamella who had their culture and language completely erased, their territory taken. And that’s why the Xokleng struggle can be a milestone for historic reparation in Brazil. So that justice processes that guarantee the preservation of our forests and a dignified life for indigenous peoples are not interrupted. In addition, a decision favorable to the Xokleng will be a thorn in the side of Bill 490, which is in the Congress. In practice, it makes the Temporal Frame thesis law. If it is considered unconstitutional by the STF, how can this bill still be considered by the Congress?

You can learn more, and support the Indigenous peoples in brazil at the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil – APIB.


Written by Pedro Nogueira. Adapted to English by Marianna Olinger.

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