Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has vetoed key parts of a bill which would have dramatically limited the ability of the country’s Indigenous people to gain formal recognition of their ancestral territories.

Lula’s Institutional Relations Minister Alexandre Padilha announced that the president vetoed everything that was “unconstitutional and not consistent” with their Indigenous peoples policy.

Padilha said the government was retaining some parts of the bill in keeping with its Indigenous policy and signing it into law later on Oct. 20.

The bill, part of a right-wing backlash, was against the increasing power of indigenous peoples in Brazil and the many important victories that they have achieved to have their lands and rights recognized.


Brazil’s first Indigenous People Minister Sonia Guajajara, appointed by Lula, said the veto was a big victory for the country’s Indigenous people as they have strived to protect their land rights threatened by the advance of the agricultural frontier into the Amazon region.

”The important thing is that Indigenous rights are guaranteed by the veto,” she said at a news conference with Padilha after a meeting with Lula to decide the matter.

The Indigenous people occupy 1.6 million of the country’s population.

The number of Brazil’s land conflicts has increased as the country’s agriculture rapidly increases and Indigenous communities across the country claim land that farmers have settled and developed, in some cases for decades.

The core of the bill aimed to suspend new reservations on lands Indigenous people did not live on by Oct. 5, 1988, when Brazil’s Constitution was enacted.

The caucus representing agribusiness in Brazil’s Congress said they would seek to vote to overturn Lula’s veto, adding that lawmakers’ decisions must be respected by the other branches of power.

Farmers have said the bill would ensure greater legal security of their land ownership, curtailing land conflicts.

Minister Guajajara responded in an interview with Reuters that it would undermine the ancestral land rights of Indigenous people and threaten their way of life and urged Lula to veto it completely.

Lula had until October 20 to veto or sanction the bill. (