IWGIA 2015 Yearbook Entry on Brazil – Brazil’s Violations of Indigenous People’s Rights for Development Projects

Maria de Lourdes Beldi de Alcantara, “Brazil”, entry in IWGIA, The Indigenous World 2015 online (April 21, 2015)
The International Workgroup for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) 2015 Yearbook report for Brazil tracks human rights affairs for the nearly 900,000 indigenous peoples within Brazil over the year of 2014. This report argues that the office of President Dilma Rousseff has continually decreased democratic inclusion of indigenous people, and limited their land rights to the lowest amount since Brazil’s return to a democractic government. In particular, major development projects such as large hydroelectric plants being constructed in the Amazon were approved with no consultation to the indigenous inhabitants of the area. These projects violate indigenous people’s rights not only by regulations set by international agencies and organizations, but also Brazil’s own governmental regulations. Brazil’s denouncement at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Affairs by Brazilian Indigenous leader, Lindomar Tenera, focused on the issue of the reduction and removal of indigenous people’s constitutional rights in order to exploit natural resources for agribusiness and development projects.

IWGIA, as a human rights organization, focuses on indigenous people’s rights, and this report entry on Brazil is focused only on indigenous human rights from a specialized perspective. The IWGIA is a membership organization of specialists and advisors, from both academic and political individuals and organizations which might lend it diversity of opinion and information, but also gives it a narrow focus. The author of this IWGIA 2015 yearbook entry on Brazil, Maria de Lourdes Beldi de Alcantara, is a Brazilian Professor of Anthropology, focusing on medical anthropology at the faculty of Medicine in Sao Paulo. The entry is strongly supported by its breadth of information both on the diversity of indigenous people in Brazil as well as the governmental and NGO organizations that work with Brazilian indigenous peoples. This source provides academic information on indigenous persons of Brazil from a Brazilian Anthropologist, who is also involved with support work for indigenous peoples within Brazil. Beldi de Alcantara is involved on a more local level than a UN committee member on the matter would be, and using her as a source would be apt for an on-the-ground perspective.

This entry would be primarily a source of data on the diversity of indigenous populations in Brazil and Brazilian governmental policy structures reflections of those peoples. It is a good summary of the major current issues in Brazil and would be a good jumping off point for research into policy interaction with people on the ground in Brazil. Beldi de Alcantara provides a range of issues in this report, but it would be interesting to delve more deeply into where policy changes intersect between climate change and indigenous people’s human rights. IWGIA as a general source also seems to be promising for researching specialized and academic research on indigenous peoples in Brazil and greater Latin America.

Securing land rights for indigenous peoples, such as these members of the Xingu tribe, pictured in Brazil, is critical to alleviating poverty (Photo: Rights and Resources Initiative)
By: Jenny Springer (RRI) Explicit inclusion of secure land rights for local communities and indigenous is key to “leaving no one behind” in global Sustainable Development Goal

PHOTO: From news article at http://www.iwgia.org/news/latestnews
This photo highlights the Xingu people and their connection to the Xingu River. It connects to the 2015 Yearbook Entry “Brazil” through highlighting watersheds as sights of injustices by agribusiness and development. Waterways and watershed regions inhabited by indigenous people are at risk when projects like hydroelectric plants and dams are pushed forward with no democratic inclusion of indigenous people’s voices or rights.

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