CIMI - Indianist Missionary Council

Newsletter #192 Date - January 16, 1996


This Thursday, January 11, CIMI's vice-president, Francisco Loebens, and National Secretary Roberto Liebgott held a press conference to denounce that previously ensured Indian rights were harmed after Decree 1,755, of January 8, 1996, was signed to replace Decree 22/91. The new decree is part of an Indian package which since early this week is being published in the Official Newspaper, which includes the homologation of 17 Indian areas in various parts of the country. Cimi's press conference was attended by five federal deputies and a senator of the Workers' Party - PT, and also by representatives of embassies headquartered in Brasilia. During the press conference, Cimi handed out a document with a list of 19 points showing that the new provision on the demarcation of Indian areas in Brazil is unconstitutional. According to Cimi's analysis, the new decree seriously jeopardizes the Brazilian Indianist law, as it provides for concrete possibilities for reducing Indian lands. It radically changes the procedures for demarcating Indian areas and in an abusive and authoritarian way concentrates the power to decide on the demarcation of such areas on the minister of Justice, harming Funai's authority. One of the points that render the decree unconstitutional is the fact that it provides for the possibility of legalizing all title deeds, which article 231 of the Brazilian Constitutional considers null and extinct. It is a gift to states such as Para, which has filed suits against the existence of Indian areas. The decree also provides for the possibility of indemnifying states and municipalities for demarcation works that were carried out or are in course. The most serious aspect, however, is that contrarily to what the government says, only the 210 areas that have been actually registered are protected from the provisions of the new decree. The remaining 344 Indian areas that have been recongnized as such in Brazil will be reviewed and may be reduced, including those that were homologated this week. Still according to the decree, the review does not contemplate the case of areas that are not large enough for the physical and cultural survival of the peoples living in them. Therefore, it hinders for good the possibility of settling conflicts such as those that are leading the Guarani-Kaiowa to commit suicide in the state of Mato Grosso do do Sul. The population is already reacting against the new decree. Two suits will be brought against it next week based on the argument that it is unconstitutional. One in Sao Paulo, by jurist Dalmo Dallari, and another one in Brasilia, by the Workers' Party. The federal deputies will also propose a legislative decree to annul the effects of the presidential decree. The National Forum in Defense of Indian Rights will be convening in Brasilia on Tuesday, January 16, to organize a demonstration against the new decree. Brasilia, January 15th, 1996 Indianist Missionary Council - CIMI