Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
and oppression of Indigenous Peoples, including the process of confinement of the
Kaingang and Terena on diminutive reservations (Brazil followed United States'
“reservation system”); the dislocation of the Pankararu and Fulni-ô nations from
the Brazilian northeast to shantytowns inside São Paulo City; the imprisonment of
Guarani children in missionary boarding schools - all issues pointing directly to
the question of Indigenous Peoples' rights. Most of the participants were unaware
of the fact that Indigenous Peoples are among the most discriminated against of all
global populations, living in poverty in diminutive lands or shanty towns not only
in Brazil, but worldwide. Neither did the teachers fully recognize at the time that
special measures are required to protect the world's 370 million Indigenous persons
- most urgently those measures expressed in the UN DRIP.
Poty Poram Carlos, a young and energetic Guarani teacher at the Jaraguá
Indigenous Area, located within São Paulo City limits, reminded participants that
she only gained the right to be Guarani in 1988, in the latest Brazilian Constitution.
Discarding the traditional notion that Brazilian native Peoples should assimilate
into the broader national society, Brazil's 1988 Constitution recognized its original
inhabitants' right to be “culturally different” and to reclaim their ancestral home lands.
In fact, Article 8 of the UN DRIP states that “Indigenous Peoples and individuals
have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their
culture.” The document further states in Article 15 that “Indigenous Peoples have
the right to dignity and diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations
which shall be appropriately reflected in education and public information.”
The new Constitution of Brazil in 1988 helped further empower the Organized
Indigenous Movement in the country, reflecting a victory of its own making. The
original draft of the UN DRIP had just been put together in 1985 by the Working
Group on Indigenous Populations, the world's largest human rights forum. The right
to cultural diversity, to quality education and health care, and the fundamental right to
occupy ancestral territories also featured in the new Brazilian Constitution, are main
themes addressed in the narratives here presented, which originally accompanied the
maps featured in the Livro de Mapas de São Paulo , produced during the workshop.
However, despite the provisions of the new Brazilian Constitution and the UN DRIP,
the concrete implementation of such rights both nationwide and worldwide was, and
still is, far from reality. Following a trend in Latin America, Indigenous communities
in Brazil have become gradually more vocal in defense of their rights. However,
expansion of agricultural and extractive industries and infrastructure development
projects such as dams and roads into traditional lands still represent a significant and
growing danger to Indigenous Peoples. Take, for instance, the Belo Monte dam - the
world's third-largest hydroelectric plant in Brazil's Amazon forest, on the Xingu river,
displacing 30 to 40,000 Indigenous persons in the Brazilian Amazon. Native Brazilians
are evidently against the dam, and as such have forever been seen as standing in the
way of commercial interests and therefore threatened, harassed, forcibly evicted, and
killed. Though Brazil and other countries in the Americas voted in favor of the 2007 UN
DRIP, by the end of 2010 none had enacted legislation for its actual implementation.
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