Newsletter n. 228


The 7th Amazonian Week, which will be celebrated between the 21st and the 28th of September in New York, will be taken advantage of by the Brazilian Government to further questionable purposes. In a note to the press, Cimi denounced the strategy of president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who is paving the way for his reelection two years from now, of minimizing attacks on his administration, which became more intense after Decree 1,775/96 was issued. The government is covering 60% of the expenses of this event, while the remaining 40% will be covered by private enterprises. Without being consulted, entities such as Cimi and the Land Pastoral Commission (CPT) were included in the committee which will select who will be awarded the "Amazonian Week Prize." In reply, Cimi declared that it will not take part in the event because it disagrees with the Indianist policy of the Fernando Henrique administration and the position it has adopted in relation to indigenous peoples in Brazil, which is not in tune with their needs.

In Cimi's opinion, the week "will reflect the typical attitude of the Brazilian government: a rhetoric of commitment to protecting indigenous peoples, the rain forest and Amazonian communities but, in practice, no political will, resources or actions in their favor". The enforcement of Decree 1,775/96 corroborates this reasoning. The government must rely on the support of the fiercest enemies of the rain forest to have the bills it proposes passed and must negotiate with them each time it refers a bill to the National Congress. In spite of the statements of the minister of Environment, Gustavo Krause, in Bonn, that "economic stability is the best assurance that nature will be protected". Cimi believes that, in practice, "there is no specific policy for the poor, indigenous peoples, health, education, nature". Therefore, an event whose purpose is to "attract foreign investments on the false assumption that human rights are being respected and involving the same old oligarchies and no concrete action in favor of those who have been marginalized from the system - including the Amazonian rain forest" deserves no credibility.


During the demonstration staged on September 16 in Boa Vista, state of Roraima, the Macuxi, Wapixana, Taurepang, Ingariko and Pantomana Indians announced the self-demarcation of the Raposa/Serra do Sol indigenous area soon. It is a means to protest against a thee-year delay to demarcate the area due to political pressures after the fifteen years it took just to identify it, giving rise to 18 years of tension and conflicts. The Indians are also upset with the possible creation of two new municipalities - Uiramuta and Pacaraima - in the indigenous area and the Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR) filed a writ of prevention at the Supreme Federal Court against such possibility, since the preliminary order granted to Funai suspending the creation of Uiramuta and Pacaraima was annulled by the Federal Regional Court in Brasilia. After the news of the self-demarcation got about, the minister of Justice, Nelson Jobim, announced for the fourth time that he will be visiting the state. This is expected to take place after the municipal elections, on October 10. CIR warns that if the acts creating the municipalities are not annulled, the Indians will try to prevent the holding of the elections scheduled for October 3 in those two locations, giving rise to conflicts.

Brasilia, 19 September 1996
Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi