Newsletter n. 258

Uncertainties Prevail in Sucurity Indigenous Area

The Guarani-Kaiowa Indians of the Sucuriy indigenous area won additional support from over 100 indigenous leaders in their fight to get possession of that area, located in the municipality of Maracaju, state of Mato Grosso do Sul. They began the Aty Guassu (Guarani-Kaiowa assembly) on April 30 and decided to remain on day and night watch until a new ruling is issued in their favor. 500 hectares of their area, demarcated in December 1996, are located inside 5,000 hectares allegedly owned by farmer Sebastiao Alves Marcondes. In February, judge Jean Marcos of the Federal Court of Campo Grande ruled that a preliminary order issued by the Regional Court was to be complied with, arguing that he was following orders from a higher jurisdiction. The Public Prosecution Service appealed in favor of the Indians and on April 29, almost ten days after the deadline for their eviction expired, judge Jean Marcos Ferreira announced that perhaps he couldn't be impartial enough to issue a decision on the matter. The case was then placed under the responsibility of the substitute judge, Pedro Pereira dos Santos, who ruled that Funai had 15 days to remove the Indians from the area.

The climate is extremely tense, but the Guarani-Kaiowa are determined to endure all consequences in their struggle to take possession of the land. In a letter to the judges in charge of the case, they declared very clearly : "we have lost all that we had in two previous evictions. Now we are willing to lose the last thing we have, which is our lives, if need be. At least we will not have to suffer any longer." They were arbitrarily expelled from the area in 1988 and 1996.

The determination of the indigenous community is impressive.

They say that all that they had was lost or spoiled in the two previous evictions and that they have nothing more to lose, except for their lives. "If need be, we will die to ensure the land to our children," they say. Cimi has been fully supporting the claims of the indigenous community and blames the State for whatever may happen. In a public note to the national and international community, the entity warned that a serious tragedy may take place.


A dispute over the jurisdiction to judge the murderers of Pataxo Ha-Ha-Hae Indian Galdino dos Santos, who was burned alive on April 20, is taking place between the courts of law and the federal courts. According to the latter, the Constitution of 1988 provides that crimes against Indians are to be judged by them.

The controversy was submitted to the Higher Court, which will decide on the matter. Cimi shares this understanding, but it doesn't think its applicable in this case, since the defendants seemed to be unaware that Galdino was an Indian. The dispute is delaying the procedures and judgment of the case, and the defendants may be released if those procedures are not resumed within 81 days after they were taken into preventive custody.

The Pataxo Ha-Ha-Hae, however, are still in the indigenous land they occupied on April 23. In the afternoon of April 30, judge Tourinho Neto of the Regional Federal Court of Brasilia decided, at the request of the Federal Public Prosecution Service, to allow the Indians to remain in the area until a final ruling is issued. Indian-supporting entities and even the acting minister of Justice, Milton Seligman, have been advocating in favor of this proposition.

Brasilia, 5 May 1997
Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi