Abp Mauricio Andrade advocates for the rights of indigenous people at Brazilian National Congress

18 October 2013

As a key-note speaker, Archbishop Mauricio addressed representatives from the government and judiciary, as well as members of organisations and social movements, including the Landless People’s Movement, La Via Campesina, Indigenous People Association, Ecumenical Forum ACT and the Indigenous Council of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Archbishop spoke on behalf of the Anglican Family and Ecumenical Movement in Brazil at the National Congress meeting, and shared a different perspective on the rights of indigenous people.  He focused on the need for their voices to be heard as governments make key decisions affecting indigenous peoples’ land rights.

He called for the full participation of all those involved, in every discussion, at national, regional and local levels, and urged the nation’s leaders to consult those most affected as they decide how best to establish and finance the development projects that affect their land. 

‘Original’ people are frequently evicted as international corporations and mining companies build on their land.  And significant changes to the law are currently being discussed, which, if passed, would weaken indigenous peoples’ control over their land and cause widespread displacement.  One such amendment would give Brazil’s National Congress the power to demarcate indigenous land.

The focus of the public hearing was to discuss the laws in the International Convention of the International Labour Organisation #169, signed by Brazil.  Article six states that governments should consult people affected by legislation and establish a means by which all people can freely participate in high-level decision making, especially that which concerns them.

Archbishop Mauricio brought to light the ultimate necessity to fulfill the convention as well as to find ways forward, together with the presidential palace and National Congress, that will take into account the sustainable development of the environment and the rights of indigenous people and quilombolas (traditional black communities).

The meeting followed the publication of a paper on Peace and Security in Latin America from the World Council of Churches earlier this year, which was picked up by the National Committee of Human Rights in Brazil.

Standing for the indigenous’ peoples rights is part of our commitment with the Gospel and express our true Christian spirituality. Development must take in count firstly the sake of nature and human being.

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