Brasília (AFP) – About 2,000 members of Brazil’s indigenous tribes, decked out in traditional feathers and body paint, marched Thursday on Congress to demand protection for ancestral lands from ever expanding farm businesses.
The activists were part of a week-long, annual indigenous protest camp that drew around 3,500 representatives from around 100 tribes, organizers said.
The marchers, some carrying bows and arrows, briefly blocked rush-hour traffic as they made their way to Brasilia’s legislature and justice ministry.
A long red banner was carried by demonstrators to symbolize a trail of blood due to conflicts with Brazil’s enormous ranching, soya and other food commodity industries.
“Enough of indigenous genocide. Demarcate now!” the banner said, referring to continuous delays in officially demarcating legally accepted tribal territories in order to give them extra protection from incursions.
Demonstrators made another “blood trail” out of red paint that tribal chieftain Marcos Xukuru said “represents all the state violence against indigenous peoples in this country.”
Brazil’s indigenous peoples say deforestation and land grabs have increased under the conservative government of President Michel Temer, who is backed by agribusiness interests.
This year’s tribal camp, however, has been peaceful in contrast to violent clashes last year between protesters and riot police in front of government buildings.