Newsletter n. 254


The Guarani-Kaiowa Indians who live in the Sucuriy indigenous area are threatening to commit suicide if they are expelled for the third time from that 500-hectare area demarcated in May 1996.

After an illegal eviction on 23 December 1996, the Kaiowa decided on March 11 of this year to return to their territory in spite of the risk of a new eviction. The order was issued during the Easter holidays by judge Jean Marcos Ferreira of the Federal Court of Campo Grande, capital of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. This same judge had determined the removal of alleged owners of the area, but that decision was canceled by judge Roberto Haddad of the Regional Federal Court of Sao Paulo. Judge Jean Marcos said that he issued the last preliminary order determining the eviction of the indigenous population following superior orders.

Soon after the Regional Court issued its sentence, the Office of the Attorney General in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul filed a bill of review requesting that the Guarani-Kaiowa be allowed to remain in the indigenous area. Before it was judged, however, the judge of Campo Grande ruled in favor of an appeal filed by farmers demanding the eviction of the Indians. Regardless of all this legal confusion, the Guarani-Kaiowa insist that they will only leave the indigenous land in coffins. They complain that the courts always rule against their interests and are convinced that the possession of the land can only be ensured if the indigenous community remains in the area.

Cimi issued a note this week asking entities and individuals who sympathize with the indigenous cause to send messages to the governor of Mato Grosso do Sul, Wilson Martins, to the Regional Federal Court of Sao Paulo, to the Maracaju city hall, to the Federal Judge of Campo Grande, and to president Fernando Henrique Cardoso expressing concern about the lives of the Indians and requesting that the bill of review filed by the Office of the Attorney general in favor of the Guarani-Kaiowa be judged urgently to avoid a tragedy.


The capital of Brazil may be the last city to be visited by the Landless Movement in their National March for Land Reform, Jobs and Justice, which began on February 17. The march will arrive in Brasilia on April 17 and groups coming from the South, Southeast and West, with 400 rural workers each, will meet in the city after having marched about 1,000 kilometers in average. On their way to Brasilia, landless workers from the Northeast and the North will join the march, which in the end, according to the Landless Movement, will have 4,000 workers, including those coming from camps of the Movement pitched up in different parts of the country. The date chosen for the end of the march marks the first anniversary of the massacre of rural workers in Eldorado dos Carajas, state of Para, and denounces impunity in rural areas.

The whole country has been discussing the Land Reform and Justice in Rural Areas. On April 2, 3 and 4, various entities representing civil society are holding a national conference in Brasilia called "In Defense of the Land, Jobs, and Citizenship." The conference presented data from the United Nations according to which Brazil, with 400 million hectares of agricultural land, ranks second in the world in land ownership concentration: 1% of the owners own 46% of all the land and 50,000 large landowners own 165 million hectares.

Paradoxically, 864 conflicts in rural areas and 108 murders of rural workers have been registered since the beginning of the Fernando Henrique Cardoso administration. At the moment, there are 40,000 families of landless rural workers camped in unproductive farms, public lots or alongside highways in different parts of the country who are starving and not being assisted in any way as a result of the neoliberal policy implemented in Brazil.

Brasilia, 3 April 1997
Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi