Newsletter n. 259

Pataxo Ha-Ha-Hae are surrounded by farmers

The farmers who invaded the Caramuru-Paraguassu indigenous area of the Pataxo Ha-Ha-Hae turned the downtown area of Pau Brasil into a military stronghold. Tuesday morning, May 6, they blocked all entries to the city with burning tires, incited the population against the Pataxo and threatened to kill them and Cimi missionaries. The action was a reprisal for a decision of judge Tourinho Neto of the Regional Federal Court of Brasilia, who on April 30 issued a preliminary order ensuring the right of the Pataxo to stay in a 778-hectare area which was invaded by farms Paraiso, Sao Sebastiao, Bom Jesus, Nova Vida 1 and Nova Vida 2. On Tuesday, the Indians occupied the Nova Vida 1 farm. During the whole day, Cimi remained in contact with the Human Rights Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, advisors to the President of the Republic, and the Ministry of Justice to ensure the security of the Indians.

Although the number of federal policemen in the city increased from 6 to 25, there is still a lot of tension. The farmers are inciting the population with false information and are shouting slogans in the main square of the city threatening to kill the Pataxo Ha-Ha-Hae and priests Amauri Domingues and Francisco Machado Alves, Cimi missionaries. Since April 23, the Indians, extremely upset with the death of Pataxo Galdino Jesus dos Santos, began to occupy the land in the Paraiso farm, located inside 36,000 hectares delimited for them in 1926 but whose possession the federal courts have failed to ensure so far.


The Munduruku Indians of the municipality of Jacareacanga, state of Para, warned the Office of the Attorney General that there will be a conflict between Indians and non-Indians if the Tapajos highway-waterway is built, cutting their indigenous territory in two. The Indians were never consulted about the project. Now they say they are tired of being exploited. "The first ones to come were miners and woodcutters who stole and continue to steal our gold and timber. Then mining companies came to carry out endless prospecting activities. Now they want to build this Tapajos highway-waterway. We are fed up with all this," chief Jose Crixi declared to the press.

The highway-waterway project includes the building of a 400-km highway (of which a 182-km stretch has been built already), a settlement project for medium-sized farms, 6,500 50-hectare lots for settling rural workers and two "agro-ecological reservations." The Cooperative for Development, Production and Consumption in the Southeast Region of the State of Para (Codesup) is the party that is most interested in this project. The Munduruku have been pressing for the demarcation of 948,000 hectares for 52 years. The area was identified in 1945 and set apart for indigenous populations in 1982.


Next Wednesday, the 14th, is the deadline set by the substitute federal judge of Campo Grande, Pedro Pereira dos Santos, for the eviction of the Guarani-Kaiowa from the 500-hectare Sucuriy indigenous area, located in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. The Indians are still in the area and they pledged to kill the non-Indians and commit collective suicide if anybody tries to expel them from the land for the third time. The warning was voiced to the federal judges in charge of the case. It is a delicate situation. Cimi and the Human Rights Committee of the Chamber of Deputies are trying to devise a solution to avoid the tragedy and ensure the Indians the right to possess the area.

Brasilia, 8 May 1997
Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi