Brazilian Supreme Court ruling protects Quilombola land rights for now

Brazilian Supreme Court ruling protects Quilombola land rights for now

Children dancing at a quilombola. There are nearly 3,000 quilombola communities in Brazil, but only 219 have received legal title of their lands from the Brazilian government. Photo courtesy of ISA After long consideration, Brazil’s Supreme Court (STF) ruled on 8 February by an overwhelming majority to reject a legal action initiated in 2003 by a right-wing political party to declare invalid a presidential decree (Decreto 4.887/2003), passed by President Lula in the same year. The action, had it succeeded, would have made it much harder for quilombolas (communities of former slaves) to gain rights to their traditional land claims and could have led to the dismantling of quilombola territories already created. Ten of the eleven STF ministers voted that Lula’s presidential decree was constitutional, as Quilombola communities and those working with them breathed a collective sigh of relief. The NGO Socioenvironmental Institute (ISA) called it “an important defeat” of “the Temer government, the rural caucuses (bancada ruralista) and the National Confederation of industry [a powerful business lobby].” The case has been in limbo since 2015. A ruling was scheduled three times last year but postponed each time. In April 2017, the Temer administration suspended all new land demarcations until a ruling was made, which was seen as a clear message that his government endorsed the legal action. Quilombola community members celebrate the Brazilian Supreme Court decision. Photo by Carlos Moura Demildo Biko Rodrigues, from the National Coordination of Rural Black Communities (CONAQ), told BBC Brasil that “the Brazilian state…

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