The virtual president-elect of Brazil, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, already has a basic program for the Indianist policy of his administration. The program is quite vague and allows for various interpretations. It mentions respect for cultural pluralism and ethnical identities, but also contains elements that may lead to a policy of integration of Indian peoples, which is not in tune with the Federal Constitution. The counting of votes is not over yet, but the figures suggest the victory of Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who presents himself as a social-democrat, in spite of having allied himself with the most conservative sectors of the country.

According to the program, "alternative ethnodevelopment strategies" must be defined "incorporating the participation and cultural traditions of Indian communities". The problem is that ethnodevelopment may ultimately lead to the integration of Indian peoples into the non-Indian society, even if some of their cultural elements are preserved and bring benefits to the national society. It is up to the State to decide which cultural aspects are to be respected. In this process, the fate of Indian peoples is subjected to the interests of the State.

The program also mentions that "the State should contribute toward the development of Indian peoples". It does not mention, however, what kind of development model should be adopted. Such a policy could mean, for example, that the Indians would be necessarily integrated into the market, that is, they would not have the alternative of deciding on their own future any more.

It could also mean the gradual integration of Indians into the national society until they are fully absorbed by it, that is, until they lose their differentiated identity.

The program of Fernando Henrique Cardoso incorporated some of the proposals made by CIMI, an agency linked to CNBB (National Conference of Bishops of Brazil), for an Indianist policy for the next federal administration, which was sent to all candidates for the Presidency of the Republic. However, the perspective of his program is not the same as that of CIMI, which defends an Indianist policy according to which ethnical diversity, rather than integration, should form the foundation of the relation ship between the State and Indian peoples.

Newsletter n. 133
Brasi'lia, October 7th, 1994
CIMI - Indianist Missionary Council