Newsletter n. 227


The Social Affairs Committee of the Federal Senate in Brasilia concluded this week a cycle of public audiences held in the states of Amazonas and Sao Paulo and in the Federal District to discuss bill n.306/95 proposed by Senator Marina Silva (Workers' Party/state of Acre). The aim of the bill is to regulate the access to biodiversity and stimulate the fight against biopiracy. In it, indigenous issues are emphasized. The bill may regulate the operations of transnational corporations in order to avoid the indiscriminate exploitation of the biodiversity in indigenous lands and communities, which is deeply related to the social structure of each people.

So far, environmental and ecological entities have devoted much attention to the bill and are inclined to support it. The audiences held by the Committee drew a broad range of participants and were attended by international observers. Brazil has 50% of the planet's biodiversity, according to information provided by the Brazilian Agriculture/Livestock Research Company (Embrapa), a state enterprise.

Recently, it was denounced that the American corporation Corriell Cell was carrying out a private research and offering genes of the Karitiana and Surui indigenous groups of the state of Roraima for sale. Information also got about that the DNA of 21 other ethnic groups is being studied in Brazil by the US National Health Institute.

Worried with the problem, Cimi attended the public audience that was held in Brasilia and regards the participation of indigenous communities and organizations in the discussions on this bill as extremely important.


Funai's office in Eunapolis, state of Bahia, is pressuring the Pataxo indigenous group to accept a proposition to reduce their land for the establishment of a Historical Park as part of the Open Discovery Museum, the megalomaniac project of the government of that state for the year 2000. With that purpose in view, the Indianist agency is blackmailing the community by refusing to provide any assistance to Indians who are against the project, whose names are kept in a list. The location in question is where the first mass was celebrated in Brazil, with the presence of indigenous groups. If the government succeeds in its plans, it will control the possession of the area.

Funai, Cimi and other entities have a report prepared by anthropologist Jose Augusto Laranjeiras Sampaio, Director of the Brazilian Anthropological Association, which says that reducing the area in question will jeopardize the survival of that people and that the demarcation of the territory does not prevent the government from implementing the Park, provided that the interests of the indigenous community are respected. Still according to Augusto, there is no reason to transfer the control of the land to the state, as the indigenous area is a property of the Union. Cimi is against the project, as it believes it is a means the government of the state intends to use to celebrate 500 years of invasions with another act of aggression against the indigenous groups which have so far resisted the attempts to expel them from that area.

Brasilia, 12 September 1996
Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi