Chamber approves urgency for mining project on indigenous land, but vote is for April

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Chamber approves urgency for mining project on indigenous land, but vote is for April

The Chamber of Deputies approved this Wednesday (9) an urgent request for the project that releases mining on indigenous land, but an agreement between President Arthur Lira (PP-AL) and the opposition postponed the vote on the text’s merits to April, after analysis by a working group.

The vote took place while outside Congress the Land Act against what they call the destruction package was being held, a series of projects criticized by environmentalists.

Urgency was approved by 279 to 180 — it needed an absolute majority of deputies to pass (at least 257). Before the vote, Lira announced the creation of a working group to debate the proposal, which must be voted on in plenary until April 14.

During the session, Lira said that, since Tuesday (8), he had been negotiating an agreement with grassroots and opposition leaders about voting on the project.

“We have advanced with regard to the base and opposition. As we do not have any commissions installed, we will authorize the formation of a working group, in theory, composed of 20 deputies and deputies, in the proportion of 13 members of the majority and 7 members of the minority, with a deadline agreed between grassroots leaders and opposition leaders in 30 days, so that the project comes to the plenary in the middle of the first half of April, more or less between the 12th and 14th”, he said.

The members of the group will be nominated by the parties until Friday (11).

Deputy Rodrigo Agostinho (PSB-SP) criticized the approval of urgency. “The herd passing by once again. The season of invasion of indigenous lands and a new gold rush has begun. They lose the environment and human rights,” he said.

Even if it passes the Chamber, the expectation is that the Senate will hold the vote on the project, as it did with other controversial texts, such as the one dealing with land regularization and environmental licensing.

In the act of artists, the president of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG), said that he will not run over the discussion about the projects. “None of them has been the object, on my part, of a speeding up to be placed on the plenary of the Federal Senate and it will not be so”, he said.

“None of these projects will be directly guided in the plenary of the Federal Senate without the due consideration and processing within the scope of the permanent and thematic committees of the house.”

In the opinion of Senator Alessandro Vieira (Citizenship-SE), the project is absolutely unnecessary. He rejects the official pretext used by the government to press for approval of the urgency – an eventual fertilizer supply crisis caused by the war in Ukraine.

“There is no real demand for fertilizers that will be met by possible mining on indigenous lands. What exists is a commitment by the Bolsonaro government to criminals who work with real estate speculation and land grabbing,” he said.

“My state of Sergipe has all the conditions and is the only potash plant in the Southern Hemisphere, in progress. You need to invest there, where damage and environmental risk have already been priced in. Open now a field of mine implantation in the Amazon region without no type of more qualified study has any effect, other than this, of speculation and destruction of the environment.”​

The MPF (Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office) points out “incurable addiction”, “fallacy” and “sponsorship of conflict of interests” in the project and provides for a challenge to the law, in the event of approval by Congress, in the more than ten lawsuits filed in the Federal Court against exploitation mining in demarcated territories in the Amazon.

Of direct interest to Bolsonaro, the project was presented to Congress by the Minister of Mines and Energy, Admiral Bento Albuquerque, and by the then Minister of Justice and Public Security, Sergio Moro, now disaffected by the president and a pre-candidate for the Presidency.

Federal prosecutors working in the Amazon region told the sheet that, if the bill succeeds, the MPF will continue to contest mining initiatives in indigenous lands.

For this, the procedure provided is an incidental unconstitutionality claim, in which the actions would point out the law as unconstitutional, so that the Justice, then, decides the merits of the case.

The MPF has already filed public civil actions against mining requests on indigenous lands in the Amazon, filed with the ANM (Agência Nacional de Mineração).

ANM’s practice is to keep these requirements suspended, without canceling them, according to the MPF. There are actions of the type in Federal Courts in Amazonas, Pará, Roraima and Amapá.

Other lawsuits challenge mining ventures with an impact on neighboring indigenous lands or developed on lands not yet demarcated.

For the MPF, Bolsonaro’s argument about the need for indigenous lands for the exploitation of potash – the basis for fertilizers used in large-scale agriculture – makes no sense, as the mines with exploration potential are outside these demarcated areas.

“The state of belligerence, external threat or even the declaration of war between two or more countries does not authorize the reduction of the system of international protection of human rights, particularly of minorities and vulnerable groups”, affirm members of the Chamber of Indigenous and Traditional Communities, a collegiate body that works within the scope of the PGR (Attorney General’s Office).

The collegiate released a technical note on Tuesday night (8) in which it points out the unconstitutionality of the bill.

The deputy attorneys general who are part of the chamber have already prepared two other technical notes against the bill that allows mining in indigenous lands, one in 2020 and another in 2021. The tone of the two notes is also broadly critical of the Bolsonaro government’s proposal.

According to the PGR chamber, there are 4,000 mining procedures that affect 216 indigenous lands. They are basically requests for exploitation by individuals and legal entities, without validity due to the illegality of this type of exploitation.

The bill treated as a priority by Bolsonaro contains an “incurable vice”, as it tries to regulate mining in indigenous lands without a prior congressional debate on the public interest of the Union, according to the PGR collegiate.

There is a lack of a complementary law for this, and therefore the proposal would mean a violation of the Federal Constitution.

“This bill sponsored the conflict of interests and rights that are pacified in the body of the Constitution of the Republic”, affirm the deputy attorneys.

“The ordinary legislator cannot enact a mining policy that derogates an entire chapter of the Constitution, turning into a dead letter constitutional provisions that came to light in the National Constituent Assembly, as an instrument for repairing a historic debt of centuries of oppression against indigenous peoples in Brazil. “, say the members of the PGR.

Bolsonaro’s project starts from a “false premise” about the possibility of carrying out mining economic activity on indigenous lands and translates into a “fallacy” when making an equivalence between economic activities and strategic activities in mining, they argue.

In addition to disrespecting the Constitution, the project defies convention number 169 of the ILO (International Labor Organization), since “there was no prior consultation with the affected indigenous communities”, say the members of the PGR.​

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