Newsletter n. 240


A conflict in the Erico village, in the state of Roraima, on the border between Brazil and Venezuela, led to the murder of three Yanomami Indians and a miner. The denunciation was made by anthropologist Marcos Lazarin - based on what he heard from two Indians - in a letter to missionary Carlos Zacquini, from the Pro-Yanomami Commission. (CCPY). The fact only became known this week. The reason and the date of the conflict are not known, but it is estimated that it took place around the 15th of November after a party near the Paragua river, on the Venezuelan side of the border. Cimi fears that more Indians might be killed and does not discard the possibility of a new conflict in reprisal for the killing of the miner.

This fact doesn't surprise anybody in Brazil and reveals that the governments of both countries are directly responsible for the crime against the Yanomami, which has the features of a deliberately programmed genocide. After the 1993 massacre, this people has been exposed to diseases or contacts with miners intended to decimate it and pave the way for the unrestrained exploitation of natural resources in indigenous lands. For months, the press, Cimi and Capoib have been denouncing the proliferation of alcoholic beverages and firearms among the Indians, contributing to increase conflicts among them.

The invasion of the indigenous land by miners was denounced in June in a letter written by indigenous leader Davi Yanomami which was sent to various nongovernment organizations and to the Human Rights and Consumer Defense, Environment, and Minorities committees of the Chamber of Deputies. On that occasion, the federal administration announced that the Free Jungle Operation would be resumed, at a cost of 5 million dollars. Carlos Zacquini denounced that this money was never actually allocated for this purpose and no miner was expelled from the area in question so far.

According to Zacquini, the conflict derives from the absence of the State, which should have the region under control. The situation in the Yanomami areas is one of disregard and neglect as a result of the dismantling of the official Indianist agency. Some indigenous stations are being closed and the assistance provided to indigenous peoples has deteriorated. Ironically, on December 10, the National Human Rights Day, president Fernando Henrique declared in a speech that the country is experiencing a peaceful period in the human rights area.


The rapporteur of bill n. 2,892/92, which provides for the National System of Conservation Units (SNUC). Deputy Fernando Gabeira (Green Party - Rio de Janeiro) , did not accept a proposition made by the Socienvironmental Institute (ISA) for the purpose of creating Indigenous Natural Resources Reservations.

The rapporteur shared Cimi's opinion that there is no need to turn indigenous lands into conservation units for the purpose of protecting the natural resources found in them. Conceptually, lands traditionally occupied by Indians are areas for the conservation of natural resources according to paragraph 1 of article 231 of the Brazilian Federal Constitution, and any policies, measures, and practices which might be adopted by the public powers for the purpose of preserving, maintaining, restoring and promoting the sustainable use of natural resources apply to them. The bill was to be voted on this week at the Consumer Defense, Environment and Minorities Committee, but the voting session was not held due to maneuvers of government-supporting deputies who are discussing other aspects of the report. A new session will now be scheduled for early 1997.

Brasilia, 12 December 1996
Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi