CIMI - Indianist Missionary Council

Newsletter #199

From: Date: February 29, 1996

Newsletter n. 199
               CNBB REQUESTS REVIEW OF DECREE 1,775/96

    The president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil
(CNBB), D. Lucas Moreira Neves, delivered yesterday (02/29) to
president Fernando Henrique Cardoso an official note questioning the
ethical grounds of Decree 1,775/96 and requesting its review. The
document was approved at a meeting of the Episcopal Pastoral Committee
(CEP) of CNBB this week in Brasilia and stresses that the entity has
always acted in support of indigenous peoples ``as a requirement of
its pastoral mission.'' The bishops were perplexed by the document,
which in their opinion does not facilitate the demarcation of
indigenous lands, creates obstacles and may even lead to the reduction
of demarcated areas. The text mentions the many reactions against the
decree on the part of the public opinion in Brazil and abroad, citing
Capoib, Cimi, the Brazilian Society for Scientific Progress (SBPC),
the Brazilian BAR Association (OAB), jurists, the international
community, Amnesty International and the European Parliament. ``The
image of Brazil abroad was deeply and unnecessarily affected.''
    In the document delivered to the president, the bishops say that
they are apprehensive about the negative consequences of the decree
and will ``remain on the alert with regard to judgments issued by
competent courts based on Decree 1,775/96.'' In berhalf of their
pastoral mission, they stressed the need to review the decree ``in
order to curb any abuse that may harm indigenous communities,'' and
questioned its sustainability it in the light of ethical values. It
was one of the most important meetings of CNBB, which moved by the
spirit of the Fraternity Campaign of 1996, ``Justice and Peace Shall
Embrace Each Other,'' strongly criticized the violence that prevails
in Brazilian rural areas and cities; unemployment, which was described
as a consequence of the globalization of the economy; and the lack of
a Land Reform policy.


    Funai has received 13 requests for information on proceedings
related to indigenous lands. So far, the state of Roraima alone has
filed seven requests, three of which are related to the Raposa/Serra
do Sol area. The information was requested by senator Marluce Pinto,
the Government of the State and the Legislative Assembly of the State,
which requested the map and a detailed description of all indigenous
lands located in the state. Of the remaining requests, one refers to
the Guarani area in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, two to the
Guarani-Kaiowa, in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, and one to the
Ofaye-Xavante area, in the state of Mato Grosso. Minister Nelson
Jobim, who is traveling abroad to defend the new decree, is using this
figure to try to demobilize the entities that have condemned it. He
omits, however, that the initial deadline set for contesters to
gather the necessary evidence and documents against the decree is
April 9.
    Officially, Funai received two letters contesting indigenous
areas, one from Colonizadora Terranorte, against the Enawene-Nawe
area, located in the state of Mato Grosso, and another one from Sattin
Agropecuaria, against the Sete Cerros indigenous area, located in the
state of Mato Grosso do Sul. Another letter which Funai has listed as
received, allegedly from the Board in Support of Indigenous Peoples -
Coiama - against the Tikuna indigenous area, is being denied by he
                     Brasilia, February 29, 1996
                 Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi