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Brazil: The Tupinikim Indians Vs. Aracruz Celulose War Gets Ugly

On September 12, 22 days late, Brazil’s National Foundation for Indigenous People (Funai) sent the Minister of Justice the documents that prove that areas in the municipality of Aracruz, in the Brazilian southeastern state of EspÀ­rito Santo, are the territory of the Tupinikim and Guarani people and must be demarcated. The report covers the Comboios, Caeiras Velha and Pau Brasil areas.

The legal deadline for sending the documents was August 20. Now, in accordance with Decree 1775/96, the Minister of Justice, Márcio Thomaz Bastos has 30 days (up to October 12), to sign the declaratory government order correcting the limits of the land from 7,000 to 18,000 hectares.

If he does not agree with the report, he can also return the report to Funai, requesting further information, or file it. 

The indigenous people have been trying to get a reaction from Funai. Between the 6th and 12th of this month, around 200 indigenous people occupied the disputed area, which is occupied by eucalyptus trees planted by the company Aracruz Celulose.

They chopped down trees and burnt the logs as a form of protest. The indigenous people have stopped chopping the trees down, but they are still in the area and will only leave when the Minister of Justice signs the declaratory government order.

According to Winnie Overbeek, of the NGO Fase, Aracruz is carrying out a smear campaign against the Tupinikim and Guarani. The company has distributed pamphlets at schools and colleges where it uses the same arguments that it used in the challenge report sent to Funai.

The company alleges that these people have never occupied this region and says that the current representatives of the Tupinikim and Guarani are not indigenous.

The Minister of Justice’s office said that the report submitted by Funai is being analyzed by the Ministry’s Legal Department.

Cimi – Indianist Missionary Council

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