Title 3 Chapter 2

The Union


Article 20. The following are property of the Union:

  1. the property which presently belongs to it and those which may be attributed to it
  2. the
  • unoccupied lands essential to the defense of the boundaries
  • fortifications and military constructions
  • federal routes of communication and the preservation of the environment, as defined by law;
  1. the lakes, rivers and any watercourses in lands within its domain, or that wash more than one state, that:
  • serve as boundaries with other countries, or
  • extend into foreign territory or proceed therefrom, as well as bank lands and river beaches;
  1. the river and lake islands in zones bordering with other countries; sea beaches; ocean and off-shore islands, excluding those which are the seat of Municipalities, with the exception of areas assigned to public services and to federal environmental units, and those referred to in article 26, 2
  2. the natural resources of the continental shelf and of the exclusive economic zone;
  3. the territorial sea;
  4. tide lands and those added to them;
  5. the hydraulic energy potentials;
  6. the mineral resources, including those of the subsoil;
  7. the natural underground cavities and the archaeological and pre-historic sites;
  8. those lands traditionally occupied by the Indians

Paragraph 1. The the participation in the results of the following are assured to the states, Federal District, municipalities, and agencies of the direct administration of the Union:

  • exploitation of petroleum or natural gas, hydric resources for power generation
  • mineral resources in the respective territory, continental shelf, territorial sea or exclusive economic zone
  • financial compensation for the exploitation thereof,

Paragraph 2. The strip of land up to 150 kilometers in width alongside the terrestrial boundaries, designated as boundary zone, is considered essential to the defense of the national territory and its occupation and utilization shall be regulated by law.

Article 21. The Union shall have the power to:

  1. maintain relations with foreign states and participate in international organizations;
  2. declare war and make peace
  3. ensure national defense
  4. allow foreign forces, in the cases provided for in a supplementary law, to pass through the national territory or to remain therein temporarily;
  5. declare a state of siege, a state of defense and federal intervention;
  6. authorize and control the production and trade of military matériel;
  7. issue currency;
  8. manage the foreign exchange reserves of the country and control financial operations, especially those of credit, exchange and capitalization, as well as insurance and private security
  9. prepare and carry out national and regional plans for the ordaining of the territory and for economic and social development
  10. maintain the postal service and the national air mail
  11. operate, directly or through authorization, concession or permission, the telecommunications services, as set forth by law, which law shall provide for the organization of the services, the establishment of a regulatory agency and other institutional issues
  12. operate, directly or through authorization, concession or permission:
  • a) the services of sound broadcasting and of sound and image broadcasting;
  • b) the electric power services and facilities and the energetic exploitation of watercourses, jointly with the states wherein those hydroenergetic potentials are located
  • c) air and aerospace navigation and airport infrastructure
  • d) railway and waterway services between seaports and national borders or which cross the boundary of a state or territory
  • e) interstate and international highway passenger transportation services
  • f) sea, river and lake ports;
  1. organize and maintain the Judicial Power, the Public Prosecution and the Public Legal Defense of the Federal District and territories;
  2. organize and maintain the plainclothes police, the uniformed police force, and the uniformed fire brigade of the Federal District, as well as to provide financial support to the Federal District for the carrying out of public services by means of a specific fund;
  3. organize and maintain the official services of statistics, geography, geology and cartography of national scope
  4. classify, for indicative purposes, public entertainment and radio and television programs;
  5. grant amnesty;
  6. plan and promote permanent defense against public disasters, especially droughts and floods;
  7. establish a national system for the management of hydric resources and define criteria for the concession of the right to their use;
  8. establish directives for urban development, including housing, basic sanitation and urban transportation
  9. establish principles and directives for the national transportation system;
  10. perform the services of maritime, airport, and border police;
  11. operate nuclear energy services and facilities of any nature and exercise state monopoly over research, mining, enrichment and reprocessing, industrialization and trade in nuclear ores and their by-products, taking into account the following principles and conditions:
  • a) all nuclear activity within the national territory shall only be admitted for peaceful purposes and subject to approval by the National Congress
  • b) under a permission, authorization is granted for the sale and use of radioisotopes in research and for medical, agricultural, and industrial purposes
  • c) under a permission, authorization is granted for the production, sale, and use of radioisotopes with a half-life lower than two hours
  • d) civil liability for nuclear damages does not depend on the existence of fault
  1. organize, maintain and carry out inspection of working conditions
  2. establish the areas and conditions for the exercise of placer mining activities in associative form.

Article 22. The Union has the exclusive power to legislate on:

  1. civil, commercial, criminal, procedural, electoral, agrarian, maritime, aeronautical, space and labour law;

  2. expropriation;

  3. civil and military requisitioning, in case of imminent danger or in times of war;

  4. waters, energy, informatics, telecommunications and radio broadcasting;

  5. the postal service;

  6. the monetary and measures systems, metal certificates and guarantees;

  7. policies for credit, foreign exchange, insurance and transfer of values;

  8. foreign and interstate trade;

  9. guidelines for the national transportation policy;

  10. the regime of the ports and lake, river, ocean, air and aerospace navigation;

  11. traffic and transportation;

  12. beds of ore, mines, other mineral resources and metallurgy;

  13. nationality, citizenship and naturalization;

  14. Indian populations;

  15. emigration, immigration, entry, extradition and expulsion of foreigners;

  16. the organization of the national employment system and conditions for the practice of professions;

  17. the judicial organization of the Public Prosecution and of the Public Legal Defense of the Federal District and of the territories, as well as their administrative organization;

  18. the national statistical, cartographic and geological systems; 32

  19. systems of savings, as well as of obtaining and guaranteeing popular savings;

  20. consortium and lottery systems;

  21. general organization rules, troops, matériel, guarantees, drafting and mobilization of the military police and military fire brigades;

  22. the jurisdiction of the federal police and of the federal highway and military polices;

  23. social security;

  24. directives and bases of the national education;

  25. public registers;

  26. nuclear activities of any nature;

  27. general rules for all types of bidding and contracting for governmental entities, associate government agencies, and foundations of the Union, the States, the Federal District, and the Municipalities, in accordance with article 37, XXI, and for public enterprises and joint stock companies, under the terms of article 173, paragraph 1, III;

  28. territorial defense, aerospace defense, maritime defense, civil

defense, and national mobilization; 29. commercial advertising.

A supplementary law may authorize the states to legislate upon specific questions related to the matters listed in this article.

Article 23. The Union, the states, the Federal District and the municipalities, in common, have the power:

  1. to ensure that the Constitution, the laws and the democratic institutions are respected and that public property is preserved;
  2. to provide for health and public assistance, for the protection and safeguard of handicapped persons;
  3. to protect the documents, works and other assets of historical, artistic or cultural value, the monuments, the remarkable landscapes and the archaeological sites;
  4. to prevent works of art and other assets of historical, artistic and cultural value from being taken out of the country, destroyed or from being deprived of their original characteristics;
  5. to provide the means of access to culture, education and science;
  6. to protect the environment and to fight pollution in any of its forms;
  7. to preserve the forests, fauna and flora;
  8. to promote agriculture and organize the supply of foodstuff;
  9. to promote housing construction programs and the improvement of housing and basic sanitation conditions;
  10. to fight the causes of poverty and the factors leading to substandard living conditions, promoting the social integration of the unpriviledged sectors of the population;
  11. to register, monitor and control the concessions of rights to research and exploit hydric and mineral resources within their territories;
  12. to establish and to implement an educational policy for traffic safety.

Supplementary laws shall establish rules for the cooperation between the Federal Government and the states, the Federal District, and the municipalities, aiming at the attainment of balanced development and well-being on a nationwide scope.

Article 24. The Union, the states and the Federal District have the power to legislate concurrently on:

  1. tax, financial, penitentiary, economic and urbanistic law;
  2. budget;
  3. trade boards;
  4. costs of forensic services;
  5. production and consumption;
  6. forests, hunting, fishing, fauna, preservation of nature, defense of the soil and natural resources, protection of the environment and control of pollution;
  7. protection of the historic, cultural and artistic heritage, as well as of assets of touristic interest and landscapes of outstanding beauty;
  8. liability for damages to the environment, to consumers, to assets and rights of artistic, aesthetic, historical, and touristic value, as well as to remarkable landscapes;
  9. education, culture, teaching and sports;
  10. establishment, operation and procedures of small claims courts;
  11. judicial procedures;
  12. social security, protection and defense of health;
  13. legal assistance and public defense;
  14. protection and social integration of handicapped persons;
  15. protection of childhood and youth;
  16. organization, guarantees, rights and duties of the civil polices. Paragraph 1. Within the scope of concurrent legislation, the competence of the Union shall be limited to the establishment of general rules. Paragraph 2. The competence of the Union to legislate upon general rules does not exclude the supplementary competence of the states. Paragraph 3. If there is no federal law on general rules, the states shall exercise full legislative competence to provide for their peculiarities. 34 Paragraph 4. The supervenience of a federal law over general rules suspends the effectiveness of a state law to the extent that the two are contrary.

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