Note from BW of Brazil: This coming week, Brazil’s Supreme Court (Supremo Tribunal Federal) will make a decisionn that will affect the lives of tens of thousands of Brazilians. They are the primarily black descendants of the fugitive slave community maroon societies known as quilombos. Opposing what amounts to a massive land grab, a petition campaign to protect the land rights of these communities was recently initiated with a goal of not even one quilombo community losing its rights. Check out today’s follow up report to the story posted here last Thursday.
Brazil is a quilombo. Not one less quilombo!
Courtesy of Petições ISA and Instituto Socioambiental
In August, the future of millions of quilombolas will be decided in the Federal Supreme Court (STF).
In 2004, the Democratas (DEM) filed a Direct Action of Unconstitutionality (ADI) in the STF, questioning decree 4887/2003 that regulates the titling of quilombos lands. The trial has extended from 2012 and will be resumed on August 16.
All quilombo titles in the country can be canceled. The future of the communities is in danger. New titles will not be possible without the decree. More than 6 thousand communities still await the recognition of their right.
The quilombola communities are part of our history, our present, and our future.
Sign the petition and tell the STF not to accept the action of the Partido Democratas (Democratic Party)! Join the quilombolas’ struggle for their constitutional right to land.
Brazil is a quilombola! Not one less quilombo!
The Coordenação Nacional de Articulação das Comunidades Negras Rurais Quilombolas (CONAQ or National Coordination of Articulation of Quilombola Rural Black Communities), an organization that represents more than 6 thousand quilombos in all regions of the country, launched on Friday (28), along with other civil society organizations, a campaign requesting that the Federal Supreme Court (STF) maintain the title of quilombola territories in Brazil.
The campaign “O Brasil é Quilombola, Nenhum quilombo a menos” (Brazil is Quilombola, not one less quilombo), features actors Icaro Silva and Leticia Colin. The hashtags have been widely used in social networks.
The launching video of the campaign is an invitation from the artists to have people sign an online petition, which will be sent to the STF ministers, demonstrating support for the quilombos decree and the quilombola cause.
“More than 6,000 communities are still awaiting the recognition of their right,” says a passage from the petition. “All the titles of quilombos in the country can be annulled. The titling gap is great: only 168 quilombola territories in Brazil have been titled until today.
Dispute over land puts quilombolas and indigenous peoples in the crossfire
By Tory Oliveira
Constitutional right to land demarcation is questioned due to budget cuts and comments from politicians linked to the Temer government
‘The land is essential to make other policies for these populations advance’. In the photo, indigenous and quilombolas protest in Brasilia, in 2015
The rise of Michel Temer to the Planalto in 2016 brought a wave of confidence to conservative sectors of Congress. Without Dilma Rousseff, there would be less resistance in government to restrictive rules of law. The climate is so favorable that many politicians have lost any modesty in their statements. In a few months, the rights of quilombolas and indigenous peoples were discursively targeted by several political figures that gravitate around Michel Temer.
Justice Minister Osmar Serraglio said that “land does not fill the belly”. Appointed to the position by the PSC (Partido Social Cristão or Christian Social Party), the Funai (National Foundation of the Indian) president, Antônio Costa, said it was necessary to “teach the Indians to fish” and insert them into the “national productive system”. Subsequently prosecuted for a crime of racism by the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office, federal deputy Jair Bolsonaro (PSC-RJ) hinted that quilombola populations don’t work and that “1 billion reais” is spent on them.
The comments are, according to entities linked to the rights of these populations, symptomatic of the dispute over the land demarcation of the two minority groups and the interests of the ruralists in putting that right in check.
“Land is essential to make the other policies for these populations advance. And this basic right, guaranteed by the 1988 Constitution, is under attack,” says Otávio Penteado of the Pro-Indian Commission of São Paulo.
The 1988 Constitution, largely due to the pressures of the Movimento Negro (black movement), recognizes the historical debt of the Brazilian state to the indigenous and quilombola populations. Article 68 of the Transitional Constitutional Provisions Act (ADCT) states: “The remnants of quilombo communities occupying their lands shall be recognized as definitive property, and the state shall issue them with the corresponding titles.”
Only 165 communities, however, have titles issued. Another 1,525 are still awaiting certification. There are quilombola communities in 24 states, most of them in Maranhão, Bahia, Pará, Minas Gerais and Pernambuco. The only ones without occurrences of these communities are Acre and Roraima, besides the Federal District.
Despite the constitutional guarantee, repair has long been slow. In 2016, there was only one degree.
The advances made by Brazil in recent years, such as the departure of the United Nations Hunger Map, did not reach the quilombola and indigenous populations with the same intensity. Report released by the Ministry of Social Development in 2013 reveals that 55.6% of adults living in quilombola communities live with hunger or starvation.
The same reality is reproduced in the infant population, with 41.1% of children in the same condition. There was also great social vulnerability in indices such as access to piped water, present in less than half of households, health and education. It is estimated that there are at least 214 thousand quilombola families in Brazil.
“They were left behind,” says Penteado. In this sense, he points out, “information” such as that disclosed by Congressman Jair Bolsonaro, that the state would spend 1 billion reais per year with the quilombola communities, help to make the situation even more difficult. “He conveys this ‘information’ as if these populations received everything they need from the Brazilian state. When, in fact, it is the other way around. The right to land is only technically recognized,” he says.
According to Penteado, of the 1,500 titration processes stopped at the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (Incra), 80% of them are in the initial phase of registration, which includes the research effort, anthropological reports, cartographic surveys, among others. “All this scientific survey is expensive, because it involves travel and studies to support the reports. This requires resources that are feasible with the job demand that needs to be done,” he says.
The budget makes that clear. In 2010, according to information from the Budget Portal of the federal government, actions that directly affect the remaining communities of quilombos received funding of R$32.6 million from the Union. The money goes to actions that promote Afro-Brazilian culture, communities and the Brasil Quilombola program. Another planned action, the management of agricultural development policy, in 2010, had zero budget in that year.
In addition, there was a major cut for 2017 in funding the land titling policy. The proposal sent to Congress foresees 4.1 million reais for this rubric, compared to 8 million reais designated for the activity in 2016.
In addition, the competence to delimit the lands of the remnants of quilombos communities was transferred by the government of Michel Temer from the extinct Ministry of Social and Agrarian Development to the Civil House. The fear is that with the change, the progress of processes will be even more vulnerable to political pressure.
According to Ronaldo dos Santos, executive coordinator of the Coordenação Nacional de Articulação das Comunidades Rurais Negras Quilombolas (Conaq or National Coordination of Articulation of Black Quilombola Rural Communities), one of the greatest obstacles to the advancement of land titling policies is the performance of the ruralist bench in the National Congress. “They are the ones who do not let the agenda move forward, and they dominate Congress today,” he says.
“One of the arguments used by the ruralists is that the percentage of lands dedicated to the indigenous and quilombolas make the national development project unfeasible. This discourse denies our nationality, after all, we are talking about Brazilian citizens as well,” he criticizes.
If previous governments lacked political will, in the current context, there is a counter-action of the federal sphere, both for indigenous and quilombolas. If the scenario continues to worsen, the tendency is that violence, especially in the countryside, against these people will continue to increase.
In 2016, 61 people were murdered as a result of conflicts in the countryside. Of these, 13 murders victimized indigenous people and another four were quilombolas, according to data from the Pastoral Land Commission.
“There are several actions that show that there is really a policy against a basic right, which is the right to land. It is it that has suffered more attacks. When the minister of justice tells the indigenous people that “land does not fill the belly”, this questions their basic right, which is the right to land,” says Penteado.