Brazil: An ancestral struggle that accepts no limits

By Carlos Lopes – Alternativa Socialista/ISL, Brazil

Life first! This is the motto of the Cry of the Excluded 2021, a traditional manifestation of social movements and the Catholic Church that takes place annually on September 7, and this year will be marked by the unification of protests against the government of Jair Bolsonaro. But more than a phrase, the slogan represents the struggle that indigenous peoples have been waging in Brasilia against the Temporal Framework proposal.

The Temporal Framework is a thesis that is being analyzed by the Supreme Federal Court (STF). The matter establishes that indigenous people can only claim the lands they occupied before the enactment of the 1988 Constitution. The proposal could put an end to more than 300 indigenous land demarcation processes underway in the country. Behind this initiative lies the interest of the landowners in increasingly expelling native peoples from their lands and advancing with agribusiness and the devastation of nature.

Demonstrating the resistance that they have carried out for centuries, the indigenous people have camped in Brasilia (DF) to pressure the STF and the deputies to speak out against this atrocity. The Struggle for Life Camp is, therefore, a powerful example of the struggle and resistance of thousands of indigenous people who are not willing to lose their lands and their ancestral right to inhabit them.

But more than a thesis, the Temporal Framework is a regulation of practices that were not born today. It comes from the attempt to erase and silence indigenous rights, which found an echo under Bolsonaro’s ecocidal government. It is even symptomatic of the current chaos and impoverishment in Brazil. In one of the largest food producing countries in the world, the population has taken to the streets and made the news due to the lack of food on their plates. Half of the Brazilian population currently suffers from some degree of food insecurity. Under the logic of unlimited profit, big businesses prefer to export production while the people go hungry. With the blessing of the presidency, now the capitalists want to advance even further on the land, promoting deforestation and occupations to establish large estates, agribusiness and rampant mining.

Our story doesn’t start in 1988

In defense of the thesis of the Temporal Framework, the landowners want us to believe that the indigenous people were born in 1988. This is not true. Since before 1500, they have occupied this territory with subsistence agriculture and respect for the land. The systematic genocides perpetrated by the bandeirantes and the businessmen of today, expelled the Indians from their legitimate possessions. The 1988 Constitution, then, was a breath of fresh air that guaranteed a network of social rights, conquered by the tireless struggle of the native peoples, which are now being erased. Therefore, the continuity of the violations of the rights of the first inhabitants of this land is not surprising, not is the battle for life that they must face again.

It must be said that this system, which burns the Amazon and increases the average temperature of the Earth, is responsible for the degradation of society. Capitalism, with its lust for power and wealth accumulation, pollutes, destroys and kills in the name of “progress.” From climate regulation to fertile lands to maintaining water sources, indigenous lands translate into a territory free of exploitation. Naming the owners of this crisis is also to destroy any illusion that environmentalists and the population may have in a “green capitalism,” a regime that seeks to balance different interests. Thinking about capitalist power is necessarily thinking about the end of life.

In defense of life, ecosocialism

The defense of ecosocialism, therefore, is one of the ways to postpone the end of the world, paraphrasing the title of Ailton Krenak’s book. With the invasions of lands sponsored by the Ministry of the Environment, deforestation in the Amazon has skyrocketed, reaching an increase of 51% in July, according to data from the Imazon (Institute of Man and the Environment of the Amazon). Along with this, land grabbers and illegal miners make big business with impunity. Therefore, the struggle of the native peoples also implies the overthrow of this corrupt government, allied with crime and exploitation. It will not be the end of the Temporary Framework, whether it is approved or not, what stops the fury of Bolsonarism and the capitalist representatives of Brazil to end the forests and rivers. Only the combined struggle between the countryside, the forest and the city can provide the answer that the government deserves.

The way out is through international and democratic organization with an eco-socialist and anti-capitalist program that points the way to victory. We fight for the self-demarcation and self-defense of indigenous peoples and movements to confront Bolsonaro’s plans and extractivist capital, for a true Agrarian Reform because the land belongs to those who inhabit and work it, for the participation of indigenous peoples in decisions about the use of the land and the socio-environmental conservation policies of the territories, for the socio-environmental repair of all affected areas and communities, financed through the companies penalized for the destruction.

Thus, for bread, land and work, we once again recall the motto of the Cry of the Excluded, this time from 2016. “This system is unbearable: it excludes, degrades, kills.” All our support to the indigenous people camping in Brasilia! The STF must vote against the Temporary Framework and expand the rights of indigenous peoples. From Alternativa Socialista, the Brazilian section of the International Socialist League, our cry will resound: out with the governments of death and the enemies of the environment! Ecosocialism or barbarism.