Newsletter n. 235
HUNGER AND DEATH THREATS AGAINST INDIGENOUS PEOPLES INCREASE
The Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi, launched on Wednesday, November 6, the report on Violence against Indigenous Peoples in Brazil: 1994-1995. This publication is the seventh one produced by Cimi in the eight years it has been monitoring violence against indigenous peoples in Brazil. This year, in addition to listing cases related to offences under the penal law, the report also lists cases of aggression resulting from neglect on the part of the public power: diseases, deaths caused by diseases, hunger, suicides, and attempts to commit suicide. The figures show that there was a dramatic increase in hunger, invasion and death threat rates.
In the 1994-95 period, over 123,716 cases of violence were registered which victimized individuals or communities as a whole belonging to more than 113 (52.5%) of the 215 indigenous peoples of the country. There were more than 180 cases of aggression against the indigenous heritage in 70 of the 554 indigenous areas in the country. An outstanding aspect, however, is the high incidence of individual aggressions. Under this item, which includes murders, murder attempts, homicides, suicides, abuse of authority, violation of domiciles, and diseases, 123,536 cases of violence were registered. The public power was directly or indirectly responsible for about 123,244 (99.6%) of these cases.
Seventy-five murders were registered in the 1994-95 period.
There were 276 murder attempts, as compared to 85 in 1993.
Although problems were faced to collect data in various regions, the figures for death threats reached alarming proportions. Over 1,584 cases were registered in 1994 and 360 in 1996.
The report shows that 46 indigenous areas were invaded for the first time (8.4% of the total), either by people trying to settle in them or for the purpose of illegally exploiting their natural riches. Added to the invasions registered in 13 other areas in the past, over 118 invasions were registered altogether. Most of these invasions and illegal exploitation activities took place in Amazonia, where 86.4% of the areas suffered such acts.
DISEASES AND HUNGER
The report registers 15,733 cases of diseases in 44 peoples which reported them. At least 446 Indians died because of them.
There was an increase in hunger and malnutrition cases among the peoples. In the last report published by Cimi, in 1993, 17,098 cases were registered. In 1995, this figure grew to 106,764 cases, although deaths dropped from 20 in 1993 to 14 in the 1994-95 period.
The diseases which affected indigenous peoples most were influenza, with reinfection in certain cases, such as among the Myky people in the state of Mato Grosso; tuberculosis, anemia and malaria. The situation of the Deni Indians in the Xerua~ River in Amazonas, highly affected by malaria, is worrying. The recurrence of the disease has caused Splenomegaly, or enlargement of the spleen, affecting 181 of the 241 Deni Indians of the Xerua~ River (75.1%) in 1995 alone. This people is threatened by extinction and has suffered a 20% population decrease in recent years.
The year of 1995 was marked by tensions as a result of the announcement of amendments in Decree 22/91, replaced in January 1996 with Decree n. 1,775/96, which provides for the administrative procedure for the demarcation of indigenous lands.
In this period, indianist entities, indigenous organizations, and even some of Funai's offices denounced invasions as a result of that announcement.
Cimi's report reaches the conclusion that "this may be the source of the increase registered in the rate of invasion in indigenous areas in the 1994-95 period, as well as the cause of other acts of violence against Indians by invaders strengthened by the idea that they could benefit from the announcement made by the government."
Once more, the report confirms that political violence continues to be the principal means to control the ownership of the land and riches in Brazil. In spite of this scenario, it was once again seen that indigenous peoples were not intimidated and "showed resistance, combativeness, and hope and strengthened their traditional organizations or created new forms of organization in a growing process of autonomy."
Brasilia, 7 November 1996
Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi