Newsletter n. 250


The population of the municipality of Montes Altos, state of Maranhao, has waged a war against the demarcation of the Krikati indigenous land. On Tuesday, March 4, two Guajajara Indians who live with the Krikati were shot in a raid made by squatters. The Indians, one of whom was seriously wounded, are aged 15 and 18 and had left the village to buy food in a small town. Three weeks after the Krikati knocked down high-voltage transmission towers to protest against delays in the demarcation of their land, some dwellers of Montes Altos blocked a road and seized two cars belonging to the Eletronorte state enterprise, the company responsible for the towers. In the confusion that followed, a car was burned, another one practically destroyed, and the Indians who were accompanying the employees of the company were detained for many hours. The Krikati haven't entered or left their village in the last two weeks due to the risk of a deadly conflict.

The climate is tense in the region. Funai asked the Military and Federal police to help them remove the two wounded Indians from their village. Despite the presence of more police officers, Krikati lives are at risk. The authorities fear that the Indians may attack the population, although so far aggressions came only from squatters. The reaction of the population of Montes Altos was expected. It is being encouraged by local politicians and even by the husband of the municipality's mayor, who strongly opposes the demarcation of the 146,000-hectare indigenous area invaded over 30 years ago. The tension increased after an agreement was reached for the demarcation of the area and a technical team arrived to carry out the first phase of a six-phase work. Even Funai is aware of the risks of this decision, because of which the work that was initially expected to last two months may not be concluded without serious confrontations.


Miners returned to the Sarare indigenous area one month after a police operation removed invaders from it. Last Friday, 40 persons were found mining 15 km north of the reservation. Although somewhat anticipated, the swiftness of the miners' return surprised Funai's officials. As also anticipated, the absence of inspectors in the 67,420-hectare indigenous area allowed it to happen. The military police argue that more funds are required to ensure their presence in the region. The funds would be provided through the Prodeagro, a World Bank project, but so far Funai is the agency that has been providing food to the policemen. The miners who were detained will remain at liberty until called for the court proceedings. Funai's local office announced that it will be carrying out a joint "mini-operation" with other agencies to try to detect new invasion fronts. Without inspection, however, the safety of the Indians cannot be ensured. In November of last year, half of the Kithaurlu, population, a Nambikwara subgroup, was bullied and beaten by a group of woodcutters and miners. This genocidal attack was one of the fiercest against Indians in Brazil so far.

Brasilia, 6 March 1997
Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi