Newsletter n. 237


The fifth attempt to hold an audience to hear prosecution witnesses of the murder of Jesuit and Cimi's missionary Vicente Canas on Wednesday, November 20, in Juina, state of Mato Grosso, was once again frustrated. For the second time, one of the defendants, former police officer Ronaldo Antonio Osmar, produced a medical certificate - without justifying his illness - to avoid the audience. The request was quickly accepted by judge Marcos Martins Siqueira. The other three defendants didn't even justify their absence. Without the defendants and their respective lawyers, the session cannot be held. The new date fixed for the audience is 8 April 1997.

In Cimi's opinion, the postponement of the audience is irrefutable evidence that the accused individuals are betting on impunity as an institution. Coincidentally, however, the date fixed for it is close to the one on which ten years will have gone by since the murder occurred. The crime was committed between the 6th and the 7th of April 1987, but the body was only found on May 16. Two years later, the skull of the Jesuit was mysteriously found by a child in a public square in Belo Horizonte, capital of the state of Minas Gerais. During the proceedings, various indigenous leaders who were prosecuting witnesses received death threats. The death threats received by Cimi's coordinator in the state of Mato Grosso, Sebastiao Moreira, may also be due to his pressing for the audience to be held. The climate is tense in the region.

Jesuit Vicente Canas was a Spanish naturalized Brazilian who had been working with indigenous peoples for 20 years. At the time of his death, he was living with the Enawene-Nawe people, who named him Kiwxi, and was helping to define the Saluma~ indigenous area.


Kaingang Indian Juvino Sales was the representative of the Council for the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples and Organizations in Brazil (Capoib) to an audience granted by reverend Jesse Jackson on Wednesday, November 20. Jackson is in Brazil to attend the festivities in celebration of the National Day of Black Consciousness. The speech delivered by the Kaingang Indian was intensely applauded by a packed auditorium at the Palmares Foundation, the organizer of the meeting. Juvino Sales told the reverend that the greatest challenge for indigenous peoples in Brazil was to remain alive, fighting for the demarcation of their lands. Capoib's representative called on Jackson to become an ally of the indigenous movement in Brazil.


While in Brazil, Nobel Prize Laureate Jose Ramos Horta attended on Thursday, November 21, various meetings with parliamentarians and representatives of organized civil society.

The event was sponsored by the Human Rights Committee of the Legislative Assembly of Sao Paulo. The objective of the meeting was to discuss the situation of human rights in the world and, particularly, to disseminate the fight of East Timor against the dominion of Indonesia. Cimi took part in the meeting and delivered the "Report on Violence Against Indigenous Peoples in Brazil: 1994-1995" to Horta, asking the Nobel Prize Laureate to disseminate the accusations contained therein.

Brasilia, 21 November 1996
Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi