CIMI - Indianist Missionary Council

Newsletter #195


``The (Federal) administration has strong ties with anti-indigenous political and economic groups,'' denounced the Council for the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples and Organizations of Brazil (CAPOIB) at a press conference held on Wednesday (January 31), in Brasilia. In a note to the press, the leaders say that the most important evidence of the connection between the government and such political and economic groups are letters sent by the minister of Justice, Nelson Jobim, to state governors, encouraging them to contest the demarcation of Indian lands just two days after Decree 1,775 was published.

The denunciation was published by the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper on Tuesday (01/30), together with a letter sent to the government of Para with a list of 14 indigenous areas located in the state to be contested. The Ministry of Justice confirmed the existence of the letters and admitted that they were sent to other state administrations also. Five of the recommended areas located in the state of Para are included in the ``Indigenous Lands Project'' of the Pilot Program for the demarcation of indigenous lands signed by Brazil, the G-7, and the World Bank last year.

Indigenous leaders are asking the national and international society to support their efforts to revoke Decree 1,775. Indigenous populations regard the signing of the new decree as an act of treason on the part of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, as on 15 August 1995 he assured CAPOIB that he would not make any decision without discussing the matter in detail with indigenous organizations.

Worried with the negative repercussions of the decree, minister Jobim met, also on Wednesday, the ambassadors of the G-7 countries, Nordic countries and of the Vatican to explain why the measure was taken. Speaking for almost two hours, Jobim defended the adversary system in the meeting. The ambassadors took no position in relation to the issue. Deputy Ivan Valente (Workers' Party-Sao Paulo) filed a collective suit to annul Decree 1,775. According to Valente, the decree jeopardizes the public heritage, as it provides for the possibility of reviewing the bounds of lands belonging to the Union.


A commission of Maxacali Indians, together with the president of the Human Rights Commission, Nilmario Miranda, and Juvino Kaingang, representing CAPOIB, were received by the governor of Minas Gerais, Eduardo Azeredo, for an audience on Friday (01/26) to request his interference in the procedures for officializing the Maxacali territory. They expressed their worries with the possibility that the area may be contested by the owners of 11 farms that occupy over 1,800 hectares of the area. The Maxacali area should have been included in the homologations signed on January 8 by the president of the Republic, but it was removed from the list. CAPOIB's representative warned that Decree 1,775/96 represents a threat and asked the governor to join the efforts to revoke it. Azeredo promised to request an audience with the president on their behalf to discuss the decree.

Brasilia, February 2 st, 1996.
Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi