Newsletter n. 260

The Murder of Galdino will be judged by a Court of Law

The Higher Court decided yesterday by eight votes to one that it is the court of law's competence to judge the murder of the Pataxo Ha-ha-hae Indian, Galdino Jesus dos Santos, who was burned alive in Brasilia on April 20. The Federal Court had based its right to judge the case on the powers given to it by the Federal Constitution, but the Court of Law based its competence on Precedent 140 (a ruling from the Higher Court after the judgement of several cases). This precedent gives the courts of law the responsibility to judge crimes in which Indians are involved, either as a perpetrator or as a victim. The legitimisation of Precedent 140 is not applauded by CIMI. However, to take this case to a court of law is understood to at least guarantee a minimum of impartiality regarding the judgement of the case, since one of persons involved is the son of a federal judge.

A group of 30 indians of 6 ethnicities attended the session and applauded the decision, hoping that the murderers will be punished. "We want justice to be done", Puhuy Pataxo declared. It is not yet known whether the Federal Court will appeal against the decision within the 15 days foreseen by the law. According to the public prosecutor, Maria Jose Pereira, responsible for the prosecution of the murderers, the judgement will take place within 60 days if there are no other incidents. Until then, the criminals will stay in custody.


About 2000 rural workers of the movement "IV Cry for Land Brazil", who will stay in Brasilia during this whole month, welcomed the reinforcement this week of an indigenous delegation. This delegation consisted of 40 Indian leaders of the ethnicities Tupinikim, Guarani, Xacriaba, Pankararu, Pataxo and Kaxixo from the states of Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo. On Tuesday, they actively participated in the manifestation in front of the Ministry of Justice, which shows in practice that the Brazilian Indians support the rural workers.

On Thursday, the rural workers occupied the Ministry of Planning and in protest took pigs, chickens and turkeys with them. The movement "Cry for Land" claims the demarcation of indigenous lands, the liberation of funds of the National Programme for Family Agriculture (Pronaf) and the Special Credit Programme for Agrarian Reform (Procera), a zero interest rate for the financing of small farmers and the expropriation of 408 priority areas.


The Guarani-Kaiowa Indians still await with suspense the judicial outcome regarding the situation in the indigenous area Sucuriy in the municipality of Maracaju, Mato Grosso do Sul. The 15-day term for the eviction of the indigenous community in the indigenous area of 500 hectares ended yesterday. The decision to evict the Indians had been taken by the federal substitute judge of Campo Grande, Pedro Pereira dos Santos. FUNAI, appointed to resolve this matter, declared to the court that it was beyond its competence to evict the Indians, just like CIMI had stated before. Yesterday the Kaiowa kept a television crew hostage during several hours, demanding the dissemination of this dead-end, which could result in the collective suicide of the almost 200 indigenous leaders. The Public Prosecution Service of the Republic has taken the matter to court, demanding that the Indians stay in the area, which was demarcated in December 1996 and is being claimed by the landowner Sebastiao Alves Marcondes. The climate is tense.

Brasilia, 15 May 1997
Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi