CIMI - Indianist Missionary Council

Date: Mon, 11 Dec 1995 12:39:09 -0800

Newsletter n. 188


    Violence against rural workers and Indian peoples was the main 
topic addressed in the reports delivered to the seven members of the 
Human Rights Commission of the Organization of American States (OAS) 
on December 4 in Brasilia, during the National Forum Against Violence 
in Rural Areas. The Commission visited Brazil for the first time
at the invitation of president Fernando Henrique Cardoso who, in an 
attempt to promote a good image of his administration, took advantage 
of the opportunity to sign a decree authorizing the payment of a 
compensation to 133 families of missing people killed during the 
military regime, to award the first Human Rights prize to various
personalities and institutions, and to announce the National Human 
Rights Plan.
    When the reports were delivered, the representatives of the 
entities attending the Forum denounced the strong concentration of the 
land in the country, emphasizing that of the 80 million hectares set 
apart for agricultural purposes, 37 million are controlled by 235 
large landowners. According to those entities, the occupation of land
areas, the massacre of rural workers, and accusations of slave labor 
sped up the discussion on the Land Reform in the country. CIMI 
described the situation of Indian peoples in Brazil, stressing the 
rising suicide rate among the Guarani-Kaiowa', the suffering the Deni 
People (which is threatened with extinction), several cases of murder 
and rapes which have not been investigated, and the plans to amend 
Decree 22/91, which are being used as an excuse to stop all the 
procedures to demarcate Indian lands in 1995. The denunciations were 
referred to the Commission, which will analyze the cases.

                          THE STATE OF PARA'

    Constant death threats, violence, fear and insecurity may lead the 
Tembe Indians to engage in a direct conflict with about 2 thousand 
families of squatters, farmers and lumbermen who have occupied the 
Alto Rio Guama Area, in the state of Para'. For 16 years, the Indians 
have been waiting for the government to act and have denounced the 
illegal extraction of hardwood and the existence of several marijuana 
plantations belonging to non-Indians inside the Indian area. With any
federal inspection, the Indians began to protect their land, burning
houses and destroying bridges. In July of this year, a rural worker
was wounded in a conflict. Indian leaders are being threatened and
insulted in their own villages.
    After the negotiations that were resumed early in December with
Funai, the Federal Police, Ibama and the Office of the Attorney
General failed, the Tembe issued a note and a signed petition to the
society requesting urgent actions to deal with the invaders, the end
of the theft of hardwood and of marijuana plantations in their area,
the recovery of the destroyed area through reforesting actions, and
the setting up of inspection stations in the Indian area.

                     Brasilia, December 11th, 1995
                     Indianist Missionary Council