CIMI - Indianist Missionary Council

Newsletter #198


From: Date: Fri, 23 Feb 1996 12:08:02 -0800

The Brazilian government had a negative reaction to the resolution passed by the European Parliament on the 15th of February accusing Brazil of backwardness in its Indianist policy, which threatens indigenous rights. The Parliament criticizes Decree 1775, based on which private individuals may interfere in the administrative phase of the procedures for the demarcation of indigenous lands. According to the parliamentarians, that decree ``was the result of pressures from powerful landowners, miners and of societies engaged in the exploitation of mineral and forest resources.'' The decision of the European Parliament was disseminated by Jornal do Brazil, a newspaper with a large circulation, on February 17. When the press asked minister Nelson Jobim what he though of the resolution, he said that ``they should be more concerned with the problems in Bosnia, which they have not managed to solve.'' The minister got even more irritated when he was informed that Europarliamentarians are trying to persuade the European Union (EU) to condemn Brazil's attitude too.

Worried with Brazil's image abroad, president Fernando Henrique Cardoso quickly summoned the president of Funai, Marcio Santilli, to the Planalto Palace for a meeting on Saturday afternoon. The results of the meeting have not been disseminated, but information got about that Santilli was instructed to remain ``on the alert.'' The Brazilian government decided not to cancel the trip of minister Nelson Jobim to Europe, which is scheduled to begin on March 25. Arrogantly, Jobim says that Brazil will not be forced to provide explanations to the international public opinion and that the aim of the trip is to present the National Human Rights Plan. He did not explain, however, why he criticized the European Parliament, in an attitude that reminds us of the military regime of the past, which when accused of torturing and killing political opponents exalted the national sovereignty and criticized European parliamentarians. In Cimi's opinion, the resolution of the Parliament represents a victory for indigenous peoples and organizations that are fighting against the threat posed by decree 1775/96.

The president of the ``France Libertes'' Foundation, Danielle Mitterrand, also sent a letter to the Brazilian government. Addressed to president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, it asks the federal administration to ``take great care'' to avoid jeopardizing the right of indigenous communities to a land to live in through the new decree.


The climate in the city of Campinapolis, state of Mato Grosso, is still tense after a confrontation involving Xavante Indians from three villages located in the state and lumbermen last Friday, February 16. In the conflict, three whites were shot, arrowed or clubbed to death and three persons were wounded, including an Indian, Joao Werede, head of an indigenous station that was trying to prevent the invasion of indigenous lands and the illegal extraction of hardwood therefrom. Because of communication difficulties in the region, there is no precise information on the situation right now, but rumors got about that the Xavante are planning to attack relatives of the lumbermen to avenge the attempt to kill Werede. However, nothing of the kind has actually happened.

Brasilia, February 23, 1996
Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi