BRASÍLIA – Brazilian police on Wednesday used pepper spray to force back about 300 protesters from indigenous tribes, some armed with bows and arrows, from entering Congress.
The tribal members, some bare-chested and many with traditional beads and feathers, were attempting to enter the lower house of Congress to protest austerity cuts and what they see as new threats to their land rights.
A spokesman for the legislature said that the protesters "managed to get past the police barrier in one of the annexes and so the legislature’s police used gas to contain them."
The Missionary Indigenous Council said police used "an excessive quantity of pepper spray" in pushing back demonstrators.
On Tuesday, hundreds of indigenous people and traditional fishermen briefly had occupied the veranda outside the entrance to Brazil’s presidential palace.
The protesters included members of indigenous groups who want the government to officially recognize the borders of their ancestral lands, so that they can be protected against ever-encroaching farmers. They also protested laws that would give foreign buyers access to their lands. – AFP