Brazil’s Lula Has Shown Real Face as Foe of Indians

    Now that the eyes of Brazil are focused on the real situation in rural areas, the Indianist Missionary Council convened to plan its actions for 2005 and present its analysis of this situation, focusing on the scenario of violence against indigenous people and their constitutional rights.

    This translates into deaths – there have been 63 homicides over the past two years – and into environmental and cultural destruction that continues to threaten the survival of indigenous peoples and their way of life.


    Note issued by Cimi (Committee of the Indianist Missionary Council):


    PEACE AND LAND FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLES


    We, missionaries from all over Brazil, Cimi Presidency and Council members, met in Chapada dos Guimarães (state of Mato Grosso) on February 21-25, 2005, to analyze and debate various aspects of the current Brazilian situation and its effects on the lives of indigenous peoples and communities in our country.


    The picture that arises from these analyses of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches and of the different regional situations is extremely serious and threatening for indigenous people, their communities, their territories, their cultures and their future generations.


    The Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva administration has finally cast aside its misleading claims to be an ally of the indigenous cause and showed its true face as a tool of the most powerful and lethal enemies of indigenous peoples.


    This became clear with the refusal of the President of the Republic to ratify the bounds of the Raposa/Serra do Sol indigenous land in the state of Roraima, thus explicitly stimulating local authorities to put new legal obstacles in the way of this ratification.


    The active complicity of sectors of the Judicial Branch in this process shows that a political and legal noose is being tightened around the rights of indigenous people in Brazil, a noose of an ethnocide mature.


    In the Legislative Branch, the scenario is no different: well-coordinated groups in the House of Deputies and the Federal Senate have set up committees that produce reports and bills of law for the sole purposes of reducing and annulling the constitutional rights of indigenous people.


    They have set up obstacles and rendered the demarcation of territories infeasible and, in short, have readopted the integrationist perspective overridden by the Federal Constitution.


    Through its hegemonic sectors, the Legislative Branch also acts as a tool of the capital of multinationals and local oligarchies, which are partners of the federal government and enemies of indigenous people.


    The regional scenarios which we have analyzed leave no doubt that the events taking place at national level are being repeated in all regions of the country.


    In the state of Pará, which is currently the focus of national attention because of the barbaric assassinations of Sister Dorothy Stang and three rural workers, the Arara (Ugrogmo) people, who have only recently been contacted and live in the Cachoeira Seca indigenous land, have had their territory invaded by lumberjacks and ranchers, who have used land grabs and threats of physical violence to put the physical and cultural survival of this people at risk.


    In Acre, the state government has been denying the Apolima-Arara their constitutional rights by negotiating the removal of this people from their lands and, together with Ibama, making it difficult for the land of the Nawa people to be legally recognized, thus serving the interests of political and economic groups linked to ecotourism and which are, certainly, not the same as the interests of forest peoples.


    In the east and northeast regions, in its efforts to approve the São Francisco river transposition project, the Lula administration has paid no heed to its negative impact on indigenous communities and their territories, since it is obsessed with serving the interests of ranchers, agribusiness and large civil engineering companies which are avid to make easy profits out of public money.


    In the mid-west and south regions, businessmen, ranchers and local politicians have joined forces to prevent the identification and demarcation of indigenous territories at the cost of the lives of Xavante and Guarani-Kaiowá children, who have become victims of different diseases and malnutrition.


    The Myky people in Mato Grosso, which were almost exterminated during the 1970s after decades of territorial and population recovery, now find themselves exposed to a brutal process where their forest is being pillaged and their allies are receiving death threats from invaders, whilst the authorities do nothing.


    Just as in the local and regional cases, the current situation nationwide is very threatening for the lives and future of indigenous people in Brazil.


    Influential sectors of the federal government – with their eyes set on the omnipresent and asphyxiating general election in 2006 – in the Legislative and Judicial branches clearly act as representatives of financial powers, large corporations, ranchers, agribusiness, invaders and even criminals who use violence in land grabs and in seizing indigenous territories.


    At the time when Christian churches in Brazil, acting ecumenically, are launching the Fraternity Campaign with the slogan “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” we can see, unfortunately, that violence and assassinations are intensifying in Brazilian rural areas as a result of land grabs and the uncontrolled greed of adventurers in the north region of the country.


    It is in this context that violence against the indigenous communities has also been increasing, with 63 indigenous people having been assassinated during the Lula government.


    We, the Cimi Presidency and Council members, view this situation with extreme concern and place our hopes for changing it in our evangelical commitment to indigenous communities; in the capacity of Brazilian civil society to reject ethnic prejudice, as indigenous people have many important allies in it; in the willingness of social movements in rural areas and cities to mobilize themselves and fight; and in the prominent role played by indigenous people in the defense of their historic rights.


    We appeal to all, men and women, who are concerned with Justice in our country, to join us in this struggle to ensure Peace and Land for Indigenous Peoples.


    Chapada dos Guimarães (state of Mato Grosso), 24 February 2005.
    Presidency and Committee of the Indianist Missionary Council


    Cimi ”“ Indianist Missionary Council
    www.cimi.org.br

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