Newsletter n. 251


The mayor of Uiramuta, a municipality illegally created inside the Raposa/Serra do Sol area, announced that a hydroelectric power plant will be built inside that indigenous area shortly. In turn, the mayor of Pacaraima, an also illegal municipality located inside the Sao Marcos indigenous area belonging to the Macuxi Indians, began to build a road across the Raposa/Serra do Sol area connecting the municipality to a mining village called Agua Fria. On February 16, the former coordinator of the Indigenous Council of Roraima, Nelino Gale', was insulted and beaten and received death threats inside the Municipal Council of Normandia, where he is a councilman. According to the Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR), all these facts are a result of resolution n. 80 issued by the minister of Justice, Nelson Jobim, which cut and reduced the size of the indigenous area, opening up spaces for mining villages to be established.

CIR does not accept the decision of the minister of Justice and has repeatedly requested an audience with the president of the Republic, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, to request a review of that resolution and the demarcation of the indigenous area in a continuous strip, as Funai officially suggested in 1993.

The entity warns that serious conflicts may break out in the region as in 1995, when the state government tried to build a power plant in the Contigo river. The tense climate prevailing in the region was enhanced after the announcement of the ministerial decision, which displeased both Indians and invaders of the Raposa/Serra do Sol indigenous area.

The works announced by the mayors of the two cities are unconstitutional, as the Constitution of 1988 provides that such decision could only have been made by the federal administration after a complementary law is passed for this purpose, which so far has not been proposed by the National Congress. The insults and aggression against councilman Nelino Gale' reveal the violence which the Macuxi, Wapixana, Taurepang, and Ingariko Indians have been suffering for centuries due to the impunity that characterizes the State. Despite the pressure from national and international entities, no murder of Indians was ever arrested in Roraima.


Acting judge Joco Luis Nogueira Matias, of the Federal Court of Santarem, state of Para', issued a preliminary order on February 24 forbidding the mining activities of Luis Rodrigues da Silva in the Munduruku indigenous area, located in the municipality of Itaituba. After he is notified, Luis Rodrigues will have a deadline of 15 days to remove the miners he hired - about 100 - and 30 more days to remove his mining equipment from the area. If he fails to comply with the judge's decision to suspend his activity, he will be charged a fine of US$ 10,000 a day and if he fails to remove his miners and equipment from the area it will cost him US$ 1,000 a day in fines. The preliminary order also provides that a miner known as "Luis Barbudo" (Bearded Louis) is to pay a fine of US$30,000 for environmental damages caused by his mining activities in the last ten years in part of the 948,541-hectare indigenous area. Because of the mining, the Munduruku have a high mercury content in their blood and suffer constant outbreaks of tuberculosis and malaria.

Brasilia, 13 March 1997
Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi