Newsletter n. 244


The Guarani-Kaiowa from the Sucuriy area, located in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, have not found a means to return to the indigenous area, from which they were expelled on December 23. They were expelled from the area by order of farmer Sebastiao Alves Marcondes two days after the Kaiowa tried to take possession of the 500-hectare territory which was demarcated in May 1996. The farmer, who claims to be the owner of the land, is supported by the new mayor of the municipality of Maracaju, by the lawyer of the city hall, and by the president of the Rural Union of the municipality. Upon being called to settle the issue, the Federal Police informed the Indians that they needed a court authorization - a writ of delivery - to return to the area, a requirement which is both unprecedented and absurd.

Indigenist Walter Coutinho, from Funai in Brasilia, informed Cimi that the practice of the agency is to ensure the right of the farmer to the area until the land is registered, which may happen after many years. It is, to say the least, a strange position, as the agency is supposed to take care of the interests of the Indians and ensure the right of the community to take possession of the area in question. It means that the Indians will only manage to live in the already demarcated land by acting on their initiative, as happened in the Jarara and Jaguapire areas of the same people last year. The lawyer of the farmer is gathering the necessary documents to contest the demarcation of the Sucuriy area.


Funai will request funds from Prodeagro (Agro-Environmental Development Project of Mato Grosso), financed by the World Bank, to recover the Sarare indigenous area in the state of Mato Grosso.

Because the environmental issue is the main component of the project, the recovery of the Sarare area is imperative. Discussions are already being held in this connection, but a final decision will depend on the mobilization of society, indigenists and the Indians themselves. The greatest concern, however, is to protect the area. Other Nambikwara, Xavante and Pareci Indians will help to protect it against new invasions and to find mining equipment hidden in remote locations.

What is expected is that this will be the last Sarare Operation to remove the invaders who along the years only tend to grow. In 1993, 4,000 invaders were removed from the area, and this time the figure was approximately 10,000.


Indigenist Virgilio Clemente da Silva, Funai's administrator in Amambai, state of Mato Grosso do Sul, was removed from the agency because of suspected irregularities in work contracts between Indians and sugar mills in the region. The administrative rule removing the administrator from his post - for 30 days - was issued on December 20. Meanwhile, Funai's regional office will be managed by a provisional administrator. Funai acted as intermediary in the process of establishing 4,000 work contracts for Indians, mostly Guarani-Kaiowa and Terena, and charges a service fee for this which, at least theoretically, should be given to the indigenous communities.

The Regional Labor Department (DRT), which should control and inspect such activities, says it never received copies of the contracts, facilitating the exploitation of slave labor and other irregularities.

Cimi has been denouncing this situation in Mato Grosso do Sul for at least four years and warns that certain individuals may be deriving advantages from it. Funai in Brasilia said it was informed about these accusations only recently.

Brasilia, 23 January 1997
Indigenist Missionary Council - Cimi