Newsletter n. 246


Representatives of the World Bank (IRDB) in Brazil asked the government of the state of Rondonia to check accusations of invasion and depredation of the indigenous area of Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau and of the Guajara-Mirim state park. The World Bank is funding the Agriculture/Livestock and Forest Recovery Plan of Rondonia (Planafloro), whose objective, among others, is ``to strengthen the system of inspection and control of protected areas in the state of Rondonia''. In November of last year the bank had warned governor Valdir Raupp that the deadline for the conclusion of the project would only be extended if those areas were inspected and controlled and, because of the new accusations, it requested the government of that state to provide a detailed description of plans to protect indigenous territories. Indianist entities fear that the Planafloro, which was implemented in mid-1992, may produce the same disastrous results brought about by another program funded by the World Bank - the Polonoroeste - which caused serious environmental damages in the region.

The accusations involving the two indigenous areas came from CIMI, the Eco-Environmental Defense Association - Kaninde, and the Board of Indigenous Nations and Peoples of Rondonia, North of Mato Grosso do Sul and South of Amazonas (CUNPIR). CIMI revealed that the only inspection carried out last year showed that approximately 400 families are living in the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau area, of which only 20 reside there permanently, while the rest is there to take possession of plots and/or fell trees. The machines that were seized during this inspection were returned to the invaders for unknown reasons. The Kaninde entity is requesting and audit of the environmental component of the Planafloro program, which will probably reveal that millions of cubic meters of hardwood were stolen from the indigenous areas in question. Still according to Kaninde, 80% of the resources available for inspection purposes were cut and a new interinstitutional group was set up to follow up this activity, which did not include various Indian-supporting NGOs.

According to a letter written by CUNPIR, the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau Indians area being bullied and mistreated by woodcutters, ``grileiros''(persons who produce false title deeds to take possession of land illegally) and squatters who area being encouraged by unscrupulous politicians to invade the area and build roads in them to facilitate the transportation of the stolen hardwood. The action of the invaders affects the life of the indigenous population, whose game is fleeing the destroyed forest. The damages caused to the indigenous population affect humankind at large as well, because a specific biodiversity is being destroyed.


The exit of Nelson Jobim from the Ministry of Justice is stirring the expectations of invaders of indigenous areas. According to the national press, Jobim will take office as justice of the Supreme Federal Court some time between now and March. The Ministry of Justice has not confirmed this information, but some regional newspapers have been publishing news about politicians who claim that some pending demarcations of indigenous areas will be settled before Jobim leaves the ministry. The first case refers to the Bau indigenous area, the land of the Kaiapo Indians in the state of Para. The newspaper O Liberal says that, based on the adversary system provided for in Decree 1,775/96, the minister will analyze an appeal filed by a mayor to settle an issue involving that indigenous reservation. Another case refers to the Panambizinho indigenous area in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, a region where the suicide rate among the Guarani-Kaiowa is high. In this case, according to the O Progresso newspaper, local politicians are assuring settlers that the minister will annul a decree which expanded the indigenous area in December of 1995.

According to that decision, the area was expanded from 60 to 1,180 hectares. The settlers were in the indigenous area 37 years ago under a Land Reform project developed by late president Getulio Vargas.

Brasilia, 6 February 1997
Indianist Missionary Council - CIMI