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Land rights victory for Amazon Indians in Brazil

In what is being hailed as a victory for indigenous groups in the Brazilian Amazon, Brazil’s Supreme Court sided with Indians from the Raposa Serra do Sol reservation in a 30-year land dispute with large-scale farmers in the northern state of Roraima, near the border with Venezuela, reports the Associated Press.

The 10-1 decision puts the 1.7 million hectare (4.2 million acre) reserve under legal control of some 18,000 indigenous Amazonians including members of the Macuxi, Wapichana, Ingariko, Taurepang and Patamona tribes. Agricultural and industrial interests had sought to break up the reservation and exploit the land for farming, logging, and mining.

Nevertheless observers say the ruling is unlikely to end sometimes violent conflict that has plagued the area — farmers, some of whom has occupied the land since the late 1980s, say they will fight for the land. Up to 600 people could be displaced.

Twenty two percent of the Brazilian Amazon has been set aside as reservations for indigenous people. 26 tribes in Brazil live with little to no contact with the outside world, according to FUNAI, the country’s National Indian Foundation.

Research has shown that indigenous reserves have substantially lower rates of deforestation than unprotected areas.

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