Indians from Southern Brazil Want to Sue Authorities for Racism

    The Kaingang Indians from Brazil are mad at the way they are treated by the authorities in the city of Porto Alegre, in the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul.

    The indigenous peoople live on the hill called Morro do Osso,  and their leader protested after an attempt by the Head of the Municipal Secretary for the Environment, Beto Moesch, to remove without a court order the shacks where they live:


    “Today I’m going to get this bugrada (band of Indians) out of here”. These were the words that the Municipal Secretary for the Environment used when he came here on Friday, June 4.


    “For a long time, they have used this term to say that we are forest dwellers, that we are animals and that they can kill and eliminate us. But we don’t accept this.


    “We demand respect, and we want justice to prevail against all this discrimination and prejudice. And we are certain that the population of Porto Alegre does not think in this way and does, indeed, respect us.”


    Some of these shacks were built within the Morro do Osso Park, but the large majority lies outside its boundaries.


    The community, of around 20 families, is made up of indigenous people from various villages in the state. They reoccupied the hill on April 9 2004 and are demanding that the National Foundation for Indigenous People (Funai) studies the area.


    The Port Alegre City Hall has been promoting the place as a tourist attraction, but the Indians want to search for the presence of archeological sites and indigenous burial grounds there.


    Funai representatives visited the indigenous people in February 2005 and promised to send a report stating the conclusions drawn from the visit. According to the Cimi team in Porto Alegre, the Foundation has not yet sent anything. 


    As for Moesch’s attitudes, the indigenous people are petitioning for those responsible for the physical violence and the crime of racism to be punished.


    They have also petitioned the Public Prosecutor’s Office to take legal action against the Municipal Secretary for the Environment charging him with slander and defamation.


    They are using as proof what he has said to newspapers and on television, namely, that the indigenous people camping on Morro do Osso are criminals and drug dealers.


    The Kaingang have also asked Funai to immediately set up a technical group to carry out studies to identify and define the boundaries of the Morro do Osso indigenous land.


    Cimi – Indianist Missionary Council – www.cimi.org.br

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