SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS INDIANSí RIGHTS IN HISTORIC RULING
Supreme Court has ruled that the Raposa-Serra do Sol
Indian reserve should not be broken up. A powerful group of rice farmers
wanted the reserveís boundaries changed. But the judges ruled
10-1 that the reserve should remain intact.
The President of the Supreme Court said that, "The basis we
established in this case, the conditions and procedures,
will serve as a guide for other disputes. We are putting an
end to the issues surrounding similar cases."
The Indigenous Council of Roraima, which represented many
Indians, now hopes that "the communities could live in
The ruling is a blow to many
opponents, including leading politicians who
backed the rice farmers. Brazilís military had also wanted
the reserve broken up. They claim that Indian reservations
along Brazil's borders represent a national security
threat. The judges rejected that argument.
The ruling did, however, give Brazilís states the right to be
involved in future Indian land demarcations.
The Indians of Raposa-Serra do Sol (Land of the Fox and
Mountain of the Sun) in the state of Roraima have
endured a series of violent assaults by farmers. Raposa-Serra
do Sol is home to members of the Makuxi and other tribes.
Watson from Survivor International has
visited the reserve several times. "This ruling
will come as a tremendous relief not only to the 20,000
Indians who live in Raposa, but to the hundreds of thousands
of others across the country, and their many friends around
the world," she said. "At the heart of the case was a very simple
principle Ė should Indians who have lived on the same land
since time immemorial be able to continue living there
peacefully, or should the farmers and landowners who are so
powerful in South America be able to push them off in the
name of development? Thankfully the court has come down
decisively on the side of the Indians, and also rejected the
armyís shameful propaganda that Indian reservations somehow
represent a threat to the countryís sovereignty. Itís a
great victory for Roraimaís Indians, who have struggled
tirelessly for decades for this moment."
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