Brazilian Indians: ‘We Denounce Lula!’

    Brazilian Indians at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, BrazilGathered at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, representatives of indigenous people of Brazil prepared a denunciation letter in which they accuse the Lula administration of neglect and not fulfilling the promises made to the nation’s Indians. Here’s the letter in its entirety:

    We, the indigenous peoples of Brazil taking part in the Indigenous Art and Knowledge Puxirum event at the 5th World Social Forum, raise our voice to report the forced colonization process which is still being reproduced nowadays in our country.


    We are tired of sending documents to and knocking on the doors of governmental offices without getting any answers for solving the serious problems facing us.


    Despite all the efforts made by our communities, peoples and organizations, the neglect and sluggishness of the government to ensure the demarcation of our lands persist.


    We see that capitalist greed and exploitation are more important to the Lula administration than the physical and cultural survival of our peoples.


    Only this fact can explain why only 11 indigenous lands had their bounds declared over the past two years, why the Baú indigenous land of the Kayapó people was reduced, why the bounds of the Raposa Serra/ Serra do Sol land in Roraima are yet to be officially confirmed, and why political negotiations are being held to reduce our lands throughout Brazil fueled by committees set up to defend local and regional anti-indigenous interests.


    Delays to complete the required procedures to demarcate indigenous lands have been fueling conflicts, as in the Pascoal Mount indigenous land of the Pataxó People (state of Bahia), which is a symbol of the indigenous struggle in the country. 


    The fact that the right to health care and education services is denied to indigenous people who still depend on the beginning of procedures to demarcate their lands, as is happening to resistant indigenous peoples in Brazil’s northeast region, is to be regretted in all aspects.


    Facts are created to meet the interests of mining companies, such as the existence of mining activities in the land of the Cinta Larga people in the state of Rondônia, for the purpose of pressing for the legalization of mining activities in indigenous lands without passing the new Statute of Indigenous Peoples.


    In judicial decisions made by different Courts, we see rights being reversed to meet the private interests of invaders of indigenous lands and economic and political groups intent on exploiting the riches found in indigenous lands.


    Many preliminary orders have been issued in favor of invaders of indigenous lands and for removing indigenous people from their lands, as systematically observed in relation to the Guarani Kaiowá people (state of Mato Grosso do Sul) and the building of dams in the Rio Branco indigenous land in the state of Rondônia, which jeopardize the survival of various indigenous peoples.


    At the National Congress, we see that a strong political group led by agribusiness forces is being formed supported by important governmental sectors with the aim of restricting our rights.


    Many constitutional amendments and bills are being proposed to suppress indigenous rights, particularly their right to their lands and to access natural resources. 


    The most recent one is a fully unconstitutional bill (PLS 188) proposed by the rapporteur of a special Senate committee, Delcí­dio Amaral (Workers’ Party/state of Mato Grosso do Sul), which is supported by the political articulator of the government, Aldo Rebelo (Communist Party of Brazil).


    Among other things, this bill proposes that procedures for demarcating indigenous lands which have not yet been concluded should be reviewed for their bounds to be negotiated according to the economic and political interests represented in the Federal Senate.


    The immediate consequence of this policy, which favors an excluding and depredatory development model whose only purpose is to ensure the absurd consumption level of the elites, is the violence committed against our peoples.


    In 2003 and 2004, approximately 50 indigenous people were murdered, indigenous villages were burned down by rice farmers, indigenous women and children received death threats, allies were abducted in the state of Roraima, and Xavante children died in a camp which their people were forced to set up on a roadside after they were prevented from occupying their already demarcated lands.


    As 2005 begins, we received worrying information according to which 5 Djohum Djapá indigenous people were murdered by woodcutters in the high Jutaí­ river area in the Javari valley region, state of Amazonas.


    Many indigenous lands continue to be invaded from the north to the south region of the country. Prejudice can still be perceived in the political discourse and actions of governmental agencies which disregard the right to be different.


    This prejudice can be perceived when the territorial rights of indigenous people in border areas are denied and non-indigenous urban centers are created in them for the purpose of ensuring the “national sovereignty”, when the indigenous identity of resistant peoples is denied, and when differentiated education and health care services specifically designed for indigenous people are never implemented in practice.


    All of this is happening because the policy adopted for indigenous people has not been substantially changed over the past two years and continues to be based on an integration-oriented, centralizing, repressive, and tutelary bias and the government has not implemented the proposals contained in Lula’s letter of commitment to indigenous peoples to implement a new indigenous policy with a broad and effective participation of indigenous peoples and civil society through a participatory process with indigenous people defined at an indigenous conference which was supposed to be held in the first year of his administration but never was.


    Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, January 28, 2005.

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