Brazil removes illegal settlers from Amazon rainforest

In a move that would affect thousands of people who live in the heart of the Amazon illegal rainforest, the government of Brazil has started the process of removing thousands of non-Indigenous people who have settled in two native regions.

The indigenous peoples of the Apyterewa and Trincheira Bacaja territories in the state of Para are supposed to be given back to their rightful owners, according to a statement released by the Brazilian intelligence agency ABIN. It was not clear from the information provided whether or not the removal of non-Indigenous people had been carried out in a fully peaceful manner.

In the Brazilian state of Para, the illegal territories can be found in the areas surrounding the towns of Sao Felix do Xingu, Altamira, Anapu, and Senador Jose Porfirio. According to the Brazilian government, the operation was ordered by the Supreme Court as well as other justices.

There are an estimated more than 10,000 non-Indigenous people residing within the two areas, according to estimates provided by indigenous groups. According to ABIN, there are as many as 2,500 Indigenous people living within the territory’s 51 communities.

According to agency, “the presence of strangers on Indigenous land threatens the integrity of the Indigenous [people] and causes other damages, such as the destruction of forests.” It was also stated that over 1,600 households were living illegal in the location, with some of them participating in criminal activities such as mine for gold and raising cattle. “They also destroy the native vegetation.”

According to official data, the territory of the Apyterewa people had the highest rate of deforestation of any Indigenous land in Brazil over a period of four consecutive years. During the month of September, local media received footage that was then published on social media that showed hundreds of non-Indigenous people living in a recently created town that included restaurants, bars, and churches deep within the Parakana’s traditional territory.

Numerous other government agencies, including Brazil’s Ministry of Indigenous Peoples, the Brazilian Environmental Protection Agency (IBAMA), the Federal Police, and the Armed Forces, were among those who took part in the action that took place on Monday. During the far-right administration of former president Jair Bolsonaro from 2019 and 2022, several of these authorities had their powers severely restricted, and they did nothing to preserve the territory of Indigenous people.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the current President of Brazil, has initiated the process of reconstructing environmental protection agencies and has established eight protected zones for Indigenous peoples. Soon after he took office, his government removed hundreds of goldminers from the vast indigenous homeland of the Yanomami people, which is located in the northern state of Roraima.

During the course of this year, state and federal officials were successful in evicting land grabbers from the Alto Rio Guama territory. They pledged to demolish access roads and irregular installations and threatened to forcibly remove any inhabitants who refused to leave the area. Nearly all of the people living there illegal decided to leave on their own.

As a result of encroachment on such lands over the course of the past several years, Brazil’s highest court decided on Thursday to enshrine Indigenous land rights. In doing so, the court rejected a lawsuit brought forward by farmers that aimed to prevent an Indigenous organization from increasing the extent of its territorial claim.

In the issue that is currently being heard by the court, the state of Santa Catarina contended that the deadline for Indigenous peoples to have either physically occupied land or be lawfully fighting to reoccupy territory should be the date that the constitution of Brazil was adopted, which was on October 5, 1988. A ruling that has significant repercussions for the entire country was reached by the highest court in Brazil, which found in favor of the opposing position nine times out of eleven times.

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