Top Brazil court hears arguments in key indigenous land case
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Brasília (AFP) –
Brazil's Supreme Court on Thursday heard arguments in a seminal case over the scope of the constitution's protection of indigenous land.
The powerful agribusiness lobby argues that those protections should only apply to territory whose inhabitants were present in 1988, when the constitution was adopted.
Indigenous rights activists counter that the constitution mentions no such time limit, and that native inhabitants have often been forced from their ancestral lands.
Indigenous protesters have been camped out in the capital Brasilia for weeks, though it is unclear how long the ruling will take.
After two days of arguments, the court's eleven justices said the hearings would be adjourned until September 8.
No date had been given for the verdict, which could affect more than 200 native lands currently being demarcated, according to the Social Environment Institute (ISA), which defends the rights of indigenous people.
"We expect some common sense from the Supreme Court. If not, we'll have to hand Brazil over to the indigenous," said President Jair Bolsonaro in a live broadcast on social media.
The implications of the case are far-reaching.
Experts say it will set legal precedent for dozens -- potentially hundreds -- of similar cases, at a time when a powerful, Bolsonaro-backed agribusiness lobby has been aggressively moving to rewrite the rules on protected lands in Brazil.
The measure is one of several that indigenous activists and environmentalists say Bolsonaro and his allies are trying to use to further the advance of agriculture and industry into Brazil's rapidly disappearing forests.
© 2021 AFP