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Brazilian Indians Demand More Respect from Authorities

On July 27, there was a public hearing to discuss projects affecting indigenous lands. Representatives of the indigenous movement were invited to participated.

According to the representatives of the indigenous movement, however, the fact that many other projects are being launched without any consultations with the affected indigenous communities constitutes a "lack of respect" for them.

"Today, we want this disrespect for our communities to become visible. The right to be consulted is being disregarded," said Sandro Tuxá, from Bahia, who is in Brazilian capital Brasí­lia attending a seminar in which this topic was discussed.

The indigenous people also criticize the use of a fait accompli policy adopted by the Brazilian environmental agency, Ibama. "Ibama issues a preliminary license for the projects without consulting the indigenous communities affected by them. After the projects begin to be implemented, it ends up forcing the communities to join the debate to discuss compensations, without leaving any choice available to us," argued Sandro Tuxá.

Another problem mentioned by the indigenous people is that the licensing of the projects is usually based on environmental impact studies carried out for each project individually. As a result, the impacts caused by the projects as a whole in a region are never considered.

Sandro Tuxá mentioned the Xingu region to provide an example of this situation, where there are plans to build six dams without studying the impact of this set of dams on the population and on the environment.

"We will propose that the environmental impact studies should not be carried out separately by each party involved. If the construction of a dam will lead to the construction of a road in the end, it must take this impact into account," he said.

At the end of last month the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (Apib) held several meetings to define joint strategies to ensure the social control of physical integration and electricity generation projects, which cause impacts on indigenous lands, and to generate technical inputs for the Organizations and Communities affected by the projects.

The projects were discussed in a seminar for strengthening Apib which addressed topics such as autonomy, territorial management and ethnodevelopment; land demarcation; health care; education; social control and management of the indigenous policy.

Among others points, the seminar defined proposals for the indigenous policy that will be presented to candidates for President of the Republic in the elections to be held in October.

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

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