Newsletter n. 236


One of the worst judicial decisions against indigenous peoples came from the highest level of the Brazilian Judiciary Branch, against which no appeal is possible. On the 7th of November, the Supreme Federal Court unanimously decided to reject the Unconstitutionality Suit filed against the creation of the municipalities of Uiramuta~ and Pacaraima, whose administrative headquarters are located inside the Raposa/Serra do Sol and Sao Marcos indigenous areas, in the state of Roraima. The main problem of this ruling is that, in analyzing the issue, the Justice in charge of the case, Mauricio Correa, said that the areas are not indigenous because their demarcation has not been concluded and they have not been registered so far. The decision restricts the concept of land areas traditionally occupied by indigenous peoples provided for in article 231 of the Brazilian Constitution and contradicts article 25 of Law 6001 (Statute of Indigenous Peoples), according to which indigenous rights do not depend on the demarcation of an area.

This decision may influence future rulings against demarcations of indigenous areas. It indicates that the judicial defense of these areas could only have been successful if they had been demarcated, homologated and registered. In his vote, Justice Correa said that the indigenous areas in question are being subjected to the adversary system provided for in Decree 1,775/96. The reference to that provision is worrying, as the Supreme Federal Court conditioned its decision to an administrative act of the government based on a controversial decree, against which an Indirect Unconstitutionality Suit was filed in March of this year to be judged by the same Supreme Court. Antiindigenous groups of Roraima are celebrating the ruling of the Court, as a request for a Provisional Remedy filed by CIR (Indigenous Council of Roraima) against the same municipalities is yet to be judged by the Supreme Court. The legitimation of these cities may lead to the reduction of the Raposa/Serra do Sol and Sao Marcos areas.


The Legislative Assembly of the state of Espirito Santo held a public audience on November 11 to hear Tupinikim and Guarani leaders, who claim that their land, presently under the possession of the Aracruz Celulose multinational corporation, should be expanded. The audience was attended by the president of the Consumer Defense, Minorities, and Environment Committee, federal deputy Gilney Vianna, and representatives of Funai, of the government of the state of Espirito Santo, and of Cimi.

Although it was invited, the Aracruz Celulose corporation preferred not to take part in the debate. The president of the corporation, Erling Sven Lorentzen, justified the absence saying that the claims of the Indians are sub judice according to the rules imposed by Decree 1,775/96.

The indigenous leaders and Cimi demanded that Funai publish the report identifying the area without any further delays.

According to the representative of the indianist agency, the delay was caused by an internal discussion on the best model for the report, so as to provide invaders of indigenous lands with better means to draft their pleas against the existence of the indigenous area according to the provisions of Decree 1,775/96.

Brasilia, 14 November 1996
Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi