CIMI - Indianist Missionary Council

Newsletter #196


The World Bank will take a stand on Decree 1,775 in two weeks. This was the main result of the meeting between representatives of the Bank and of the Council for the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples and Organizations of Brazil (Capoib) that was held on Tuesday, February 6.
In the meeting, that was held at the request of the Indians, a document was delivered to the representatives of the World Bank requesting the temporary suspension of funds to be released to the Indigenous Lands Project, Panafloro and Prodeagro. The indigenous representatives warned that ``the implementation of any plan or project to legalize and demarcate indigenous lands according to the true interests and rights of indigenous peoples may be jeopardized as long as the present Indianist policy remains in force, which today is essentially based on Decree 1,775/96.''

According to Capoib, Brazil has adopted a deliberate policy to reduce indigenous territories, which includes the establishment of smooth mechanisms for states and municipalities, as well as invaders and other persons interested in indigenous lands, to contest the bounds of those territories. ``With the publication of Decree 1,775/96, the federal administration is clearly forsaking its constitutional duty to demarcate indigenous lands... demarcations are not being determined by indigenous rights, but rather by the alleged right of third parties and public powers to contest them,'' Capoib denounces. The representative of the World Bank in Brazil, Dennis Mahar, informed the indigenous leaders and entities attending the meeting that the legal department of the Bank is studying the new decree and that the position to be taken by the institution in relation to it will take into account the arguments that were presented at the meeting.

Last Monday, February 5, Minister Nelson Jobim took part in the first debate on the decree promoted by the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo. In that debate, which was also attended by jurist Dalmo Dallari, who is against Decree 1,775, the Minister resorted to old arguments to defend it. Uncomfortable in the presence of an audience that tended to favor the revocation of Decree 1,775, the Minister revealed that he will not discuss the matter with anyone who is against the possibility of contesting the demarcation of indigenous areas. The Newspaper cited Cimi and Capoib as examples of entities criticized by Jobim.


The Environment Commission of the Brazilian BAR Association, Sco Paulo Division, approved on February 5 a motion rejecting Decree 1,775. The document asks the Office of the Attorney General to take appropriate measures to revoke or annul Decree 1,775, which in the opinion of the Commission is aimed at creating procedural confusion, gives rise to a historical-anthropological distrust on the part of indigenous peoples and shows ignorance of the original right of indigenous peoples. ``We see that the adversary system... does not comply with any rule providing for terms, means for presenting evidence or procedures.'' The Motion against the Decree of the Brazilian BAR Association was sent to the President of the Republic, to the minister of Justice, to the ambassadors of the G-7 countries and to the Interamerican Human Rights Committee.

Brasilia, February 9th, 1996
Indianist Missionary Council