CIMI - Indianist Missionary Council

Newsletter #194


Yesterday (January 24), representatives of the Council for the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples and Organizations of Brazil (CAPOIB) left the informal meeting at which the minister of Justice, Nelson Jobim, was heard on the approval of Decree 1,775 before it was over. They did so to protest against the absence of discussions at the audience scheduled by the Environment, Minorities and Consumer Defense Commission, as requested by the minister himself. The president of the Consumer Defense Commission, Jose' Sarney Filho, was infuriated by the document delivered to the Commission and, shouting, described it as ''a very silly act, unworthy of responsible political leaders''.

In the document read by Sebastiao Manchinery, the Indians expressed their outrage at Decree 1,775, recalling their warnings about the invasions which have been taking place since last year. According to information from the press, 16 invasions of indigenous lands have been registered since the decree was signed and the demarcation of different areas is being contested before Funai. The Indians of CAPOIB also stressed that president Fernando Henrique Cardoso did not honor his commitment that another decree would not be issued before a comprehensive discussion between indigenous leaders and Minister Nelson Jobim was held. The indigenous leaders said that the minister refused to grant an audience to the entity on various occasions. According to CAPOIB, the objective of the minister in the meeting was to win a stronger support from the National Congress to the decree. The indigenous leaders demanded that discussions be held on equal terms and with the participation of specialist jurists proposed by the indigenous movement. Oppositionist congressmen are pressing hard for the granting of the audience in question.

After the indigenous leaders left, Sarney Filho proceeded with the meeting aimed at favoring Minister Jobim, who spoke for one hour and forty-five minutes, against just twenty minutes granted to CIMI's representative. In his speech, the Minister defended the adversary system and admitted that he is not interested in discussing the issue.

During his speech, Minister Jobim informed that he would be personally going to Germany. After the meeting, the Forum for the Defense of Indigenous Rights found out that the Minister will be visiting other G-7 countries, the UN and the Organization of American States (OAS) and that he will be also holding a meeting with NGOs in London. The Forum believes that the Minister will try to soften reactions to the decree before indigenous leaders visit the same places, as published in the press on dates yet to be defined.

Tomorrow, indigenous representatives from Minas Gerais and CAPOIB will take part in an audience with Governor Eduardo Azeredo, where support to the demarcation of the Maxacali area and to the revocation of the new decree will be requested.

Brasilia, January 25th, 1996
Indianist Missionary Council - CIMI