From: (SAIIC)


The Federal Courts authorized the Council for theArticulation of Indigenous Peoples and Organizations of Brazil(Capoib) to access all information related to claims against theexistence or size of indigenous areas in Brazil. Acting FederalJudge Alexandre Machado Vasconcelos, of the 14th Federal Court,ruled in favor of the writ of injunction filed by Indian KaingangJuvino Sales at the Federal Department of Justice in May of thisyear against Funai. With the decision of the judge in his hands,Juvino will make sure it is complied with and hopes to find outexactly how many persons and corporations filed claims againstindigenous areas, the contents of such claims and Funai'sdecision in relation to each of them. So far, the Ministry ofJustice has issued opinions on only 34 indigenous areas, but thedeadline for defining a final position in relation to all of themhas expired already.

The decision of Judge Alexandre Machado was based on theopinion issued by the Federal Department of Justice, according towhich Funai has been neglecting its duties, "in a display ofarrogance, prepotency and absolutist inclination which isunacceptable on the part of a public agency under the DemocraticRule of Law." In the opinion of the court, the Indianist agencyviolated the right of indigenous people to information, which isprovided for in the Brazilian Constitution. Funai argued thatCapoib's action was aimed at "hindering" the administrativeactivity of the agency with the aim of emptying the newdemarcatory procedure (Decree 1,775/96).

In Cimi's opinion, the ruling of Judge Alexandre Machadorecognized a fact which both the entity and all indigenousorganizations have been experiencing: Funai's refusal toprovide relevant information and its practice of disseminatingdata in apocryphal sheets all along the process of evaluatingclaims against the existence or size of indigenous areas. Thecourt exposed the inconsistency of the rhetoric of administrativetransparency of the minister of Justice in interviews and tripsabroad. In practice, both Funai and the Ministry of Justice havetightly closed their doors, which were only opened now byjudicial force.


The Maxakali Indians, who live in the state of Minas Gerais,will end their International Campaign for the officialization oftheir territory on the 7th and 8th of August. The campaign waslaunched in October of last year with the aim of drawingattention to the invasion of their area and of winning support toits demarcation in a continuous strip. Although it was delimitedin 5 thousand hectares, the 710 Maxakali Indians have beenconfined to two small areas. In July, the Ministry of Justicerejected a claim against the Maxakali indigenous area and set adeadline of 120 days for interested parties to fileindemnification claims for improvements made in the area. TheCampaign will be closed in Brasilia with the delivery of adossier signed by 50,000 persons and organizations to theminister of Justice asking him to speed up the demarcationprocedure and with a public audience in celebration of theInternational Day of Indigenous Peoples, August 9. In addition tothese acts, an exhibition of pictures on the Maxakali culture,which has been taken to different Brazilian cities, will beshown.

Brasilia, 6 August 1996 Indianist
Missionary Council - Cimi