CIMI - Indianist Missionary Council

Newsletter #184 - Date: Mon, 13 Nov 1995


Supported by Guarani communities from seven Brazilian states, more than 100 Guarani Indians in Rio Grande do Sul have occupied, since November 6, the Barra do Ouro Indian area, which early this century was invaded by speculators and corporations, such as the Zaffari Supermarket Company, which has no title deed to the area it occupies. For the Guarani, self-demarcating the 2,850-hectare area is the only way to ensure the tenure of the land. ``Since Funai and the government have not demarcated the area, we're going to do it,'' said the leader of the Nemboaty Guassu Guarani Indian Organization, Manoel Wera.

The Indians decided to occupy the Barra do Ouro Indian area, whose use was interdicted in 1988, after repeated requests for the Brazilian government to do it. While they awaited an official decision for many years, the Guarani were confined to a small area and some of them were forced to live under bridges and in slums in cities, jeopardizing their traditional culture. Those who tried to get back to their land were expelled from it and threatened by the Zaffari Company. As soon as they took possession of Barra do Ouro, the Guarani began to open trails in the forest and plant crops. The Office of the Attorney General and the Human Rights Commission of the State are intermediating the issue, but the demarcation of Barra do Ouro clearly depends on a political decision. In the south and southeast regions, there are 61 Guarani areas, and only 12 of them have been officially demarcated, none of which in Rio Grande do Sul.


A commission made up of Kaingang Indians, settlers and the Forum on Land Conflicts of Santa Catarina came to Brasilia on November 8 for an audience with the minister of Justice, Nelson Jobim. They wanted to discuss a negotiated solution for the demarcation of the Toldo Pinhal Indian area, comprising 893 hectares, which in the beginning of the colonial period was illegally bought by a colonizing company and early this century was sold to immigrants. Since then, many Indians were decimated and others were expelled from the area and forced to live in scattered spots in the region. Although they have been threatened to die, a small group decided to stay and take care of the preparations for the return of the around 400-Indian community. At the audience, the delegation claimed than the land should be returned to the Indians and that the settlers living in it should receive a fair compensation for leaving. Minister Jobim heard all arguments and just said he will check how much that compensation would amount to and study what procedures should be adopted to demarcate the area.

Brasilia, November 13, 1995
Indianist Missionary Council