CIMI - Indianist Missionary Council

Newsletter #193


The Council for the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples and Organizations of Brazil (CAPOIB) and the Forum in Defence of Indigenous Rights launched yesterday (January 17) in Brasilia a campaign for the revocation of decree n. 1,775, which regulates the demarcation of indigenous lands in Brazil. The campaign was launched in a public demonstration at the Tres Poderes square in Brasilia, in front of the Planalto Palace. The demonstration brought together indigenous representatives from all regions of the country, Indian-supporting entities, congressmen and artists. At the most important moment of the demostration, Indians and artists headed to the entrance to the Supreme Court and adorned the statue of Justice with indigenous ornaments and weapons. As they were not received for an audience with the President of the Republic, they filed a manifesto demanding the revocation of the decree. In the afternoon, the same demonstration was held at the Chamber of Deputies, where the manifesto was delivered to the Presidents of the Human Rights Commission, Nilmario Miranda, of the Minorities' Commission, Jose' Sarney Filho, and of the Chamber of Deputies, Luis Eduardo Magalhaes.

In the document, Capoib and the Forum say that President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and the Minister for Justice, Nelson Jobim, are responsible ''for every piece of land robbed from indigenous peoples, for every drop of blood that falls to the ground at the hands of assassin gunmen hired by landowners, timber companies, distilleries, businessmen, mining companies, municipalities, states and other political and economic interests''. Reactions against demarcations are beginning to appear. The first one came from the company Sattin Agropecuaria e Imoveis against the Sete Cerros Indian Area, which belongs to the Guarani-Kaiowa people, located in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. Sattin has been fighting against the demarcation of that area for one year before the High Federal Court (STF). Supported by the Agricultural Federation of the State, the company is also against the existence of the Panambizinho village, which also belongs to the Guarani-Kaiowa and where a high suicide rate has benn registered, and which was expanded in December by minister Nelson Jobim. In the state of Parana, an area belonging to the Kaigang Indians was invaded by settlers who are claiming the right to occupy it based on the new decree.

The demonstration has produced positive results already. The Minister of Justice broke his silence and is expected to speak at the Minorities' Commission on January 24. This Thursday, new actions to be taken as part of the campaign were discussed at a new meeting of the Forum, including meetings with representatives of the G-7 to request the suspension of the funds to be provided to Brazil as part of the cooperation mechanism that was signed for the demarcation of indigenous lands that mey now be used to review the size of these areas. Indigenous delegations, as well as congressmen, will also attend audiences to be held at the Un and the OAS. The Forum will file a petition at the Office of the Attorney General requesting that a suit brought against the decree on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. A signed petition will be circulated in Brazil and abroad and indigenous peoples will remain permanently mobilized in Brasilia throughout this year.

Brasilia, January 18th, 1996
Indianist Missionary Council - CIMI