The Brazilian Parliament has approved a text modifying the responsibilities of several ministries, to the detriment of those of Environment and Indigenous Peoples, inflicting another defeat on President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. This text, approved by 337 votes in favor and 125 against in Parliament, must still be submitted Thursday to the Senate before entering into force.
If adopted, it will change the competencies of several Brazilian ministries, including the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples. The latter would thus lose responsibility for the demarcation of new indigenous reserves, which would fall to the Ministry of Justice.
The Ministry of Environment would also be stripped of its powers over rural land cadastre - a key lever for monitoring and combating illegal deforestation - and water resources management.
Setback for Lula
The vote by Brazil's lower house is Lula's second setback in 24 hours. The day before, parliament approved a bill limiting the demarcation of indigenous lands, ignoring the policy revived by the Brazilian president on the protection of indigenous peoples and the Amazon when he came to power. This text, voted yesterday by Parliament and which must also be submitted to the Senate, establishes that indigenous people have the right only to the lands they occupied at the time of the promulgation of the 1988 Constitution.
A thesis rejected by the natives, who argue that they did not occupy certain lands in 1988 because they had been driven out over the centuries, especially during the military dictatorship (1964-1985). In addition, Lula's government is trying to avoid a total rejection of the law validating the composition of Brazil's 37 ministries.
The text must be voted on before 1 June. If it is rejected or not voted on, it would lead to a drastic reduction in the number of ministries, from 37 to 23, and mark the disappearance of the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples, returning to the composition inherited from former President Jair Bolsonaro.