Brazil’s Pataxí³ Indians Take Over Land Being Used by Paper Firm

    According to information from Cimi (Indianist Missionary Council), after repossessing the indigenous lands that were being used for eucalyptus plantations to supply Veracel Celulose, in the far south of Bahia, the Pataxó have managed to meet the president of Funai (National Foundation for the Indian), Mércio Pereira Gomes.

    According to the indigenous people, Funai has set a deadline of 15 days for a report identifying the land to be published, and have scheduled a further meeting to discuss land issues in the presence of Ibama and Incra representatives.

    "The president said that he had seen the preliminary report and that it was good and he asked us to trust him because the group was coming to the area on October 21 and that in less than a month the land identification report would be ready," said Manoel Pataxó.

    According to A Tarde newspaper, from Salvador, capital of the northeastern state of Bahia, Gomes confirmed that the repossessed land was indigenous. "The area in question is included in the study to expand the indigenous territory," the newspaper reported. For five years, the Pataxó have been waiting for the studies concerning their land to be concluded.

    The lands were repossessed in the early morning of September 27, the day before the inauguration of the Veracel Celulose factory in the region, which was attended by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, symbolizing the support of the Brazilian state to the production of paper for export and the expansion of the eucalyptus monoculture.

    The Pataxó have petitioned for the end of eucalyptus planting in those areas where studies to identify their traditional lands are being carried out. They report that the pesticides used in the tree planting operations have affected their water supply. According to one indigenous person, Robson Pataxó, the Brazilian environmental agency, Ibama, has pledged to carry out studies on the quality of the water in the region.

    The 40 indigenous families, led by the Pataxó Resistance and Struggle Front, have remained on the repossessed land, and 3 to 5 hectares of eucalyptus trees have been removed. The area is located around Mount Pascoal. "We will stay here until we have a positive reply about our land," said Robson.

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

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