Newsletter n. 231


The Minister of Justice, Nelson Jobim, will be visiting Roraima with a fait accompli: the Macuxi, Wapixana, Taurepang, and Ingariko Indians concluded this week the (physical) self-demarcation of the Raposa/Serra do Sol indigenous area. The Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR) anticipates that the marks identifying the area will be set up this Thursday, the same day on which the minister will be visiting the region. It took four days for the Indians to conclude the demarcation of 1,678,800 hectares and they were technically supported by topographers who work for the Union of Indigenous Nations of Acre (UNI-Acre). The bounds of the area were defined by Funai in 1993 and therefore the Indigenous peoples who live in the region just want the minister to recognize the work that has been carried out so far by signing an administrative decree for this purpose, followed by the homologation and registration of the area.

Meanwhile, another appeal seeks to annul the creation of the municipalities of Uiramuta~ and Pacaraima, in the Raposa/Serra do Sol and Sao Marcos indigenous areas, respectively. On October 1, the General Attorney, Geraldo Brindeiro, filed a Direct Unconstitutionality Action (ADIN) requesting a preliminary order annulling the effects of laws n. 096 and 098 of 17 October 1995, which create the two cities and provide that their administrative headquarters would be located within the villages. The minimum period for judging the Direct Unconstitutionality Action is 60 days. The writ of prevention filed by the Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR) is being analyzed by the General Attorney since September 23 and so far he has not issued any opinion on it. If the Unconstitutionality Action is judged before that date, the decision will have a direct effect on the Writ of Prevention. The two actions, however, may be judged together, since their rapporteur is the same person, minister Mauricio Correa.


Each time the president of the Republic, the minister of Justice or the president of Funai make important trips, the government announces packages of decrees to further administrative procedures for the demarcation of indigenous areas. It happened when minister Jobim traveled to Europe in March and is happening again before his trip to Roraima to visit the Raposa/Serra do Sol indigenous area. On October 4, the Official Newspaper published Decrees issued by the president of the Republic homologating the following areas: Maxakali (Minas Gerais), of the people of the same name, Laranjinha, of the Guarani-Nandeva (Parana), Trincheira-Bacaja, of the Xikrin Indians, Apyterewa, Arawete and Assurini (Para), Marechal Rondon and Areoes, of the Xavante (Mato Grosso), and Enawene-Nawe (Mato Grosso), of the same people. In the same issue of the newspaper, the minister of Justice published Administrative Decrees declaring the bounds and determining the administrative demarcation by Funai of the following indigenous lands: Ava-Canoeiro (Goias), Urubu-Branco (Mato Grosso), and Kaxinawa- Ashaninka do Rio Breu (Acre), of peoples of the same name.

All these administrative demarcation procedures have been in course since Decree 22/91 was issued. In Cimi's opinion, it shows that Decree 1,775/96 has not managed to speed up the demarcation of indigenous areas so far. Most demarcations in course resulted from pressures or political interests of the Brazilian government.

In the case of the Maxakali area, the homologation was suspended in January. Coincidentally or not, that indigenous people concluded an international campaign for the legalization of the Maxakali territory in August of this year, when a dossier containing 50,000 signatures collected in Brazil and abroad in support of their cause was delivered to the Ministry of Justice.

The Ava-Canoeiro in Goias almost had their territory flooded by the reservoir of the Serra da Mesa Power Plant on October 1. A flagrant violation of the Constitution which was prevented by a judicial ruling. The Ava-Canoeiro were awarded an administrative decree declaring the bounds of the area only recently, and they still have a long way to go until it is fully legalized. Congress is acting quickly to authorize the operation of the power plant, while Cimi and other entities are trying to secure a solution ensuring the survival of this people.


Good surprises were registered in the municipal elections of 1996. For the first time in the political history of the country, two indigenous mayors were elected. In Oiapoque (Para), Joao Neves (Brazilian Socialist Party) was elected as expected with 1,713 of the 2,868 votes of the municipality. In Baia da Trai<ao (Paraiba), Indian Marcos Potiguara (Party of the Brazilian Democratic Movement) replaced Nancy Potiguara, the first Indian to win an election for the municipal executive branch. In Amapa, Neves is preparing a big party for his inauguration on January 1 with the presence of representatives of opposition parties, such as the Workers' Party (PT), and possibly of president Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Party of the Brazilian Social Democracy), who has not confirmed his presence so far. In Paraiba, the Potiguara confirmed their strength by electing two consecutive mayors in the littoral city. In the election of Marcos Potiguara, the Indians reinforced their determination to have a mayor aligned with the struggle of the people.

In spite of difficulties to get information on the mayors and councilmen who were elected, Cimi has so far registered the victory of 16 candidates for councilman, 4 for vice-mayor, and two for mayor. Taking part in elections is not exactly a new thing for indigenous peoples, who elected a federal deputy once, Chief Mario Juruna (83-86), and had other candidates for federal and state posts. The unique feature of this year's elections is that some candidates, including some winners, are directly linked to the indigenous movement, such as Nelino Gale, Macuxi, coordinator of the Indigenous Council of Roraima, Antonio Pereira, Xukuru de Ororuba, representative of the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of the Northeast, Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo (APOINME) in the state of Pernambuco, and Joao Neves, from the Indigenous Peoples' Association of Oiapoque (APIO).

Brasilia, 10 October 1996
Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi