Brazil Bishop Who Suppports Indian Land Demarcation Gets Death Threats

    Brazilian bishop Dom Manoel João Francisco

    Brazilian bishop Dom Manoel João Francisco Dom Manoel João Francisco, the Bishop of Chapecó, Santa Catarina, has recently been receiving death threats for having taken up a position in favor of the demarcation of the Guarani, Kaingang and Xokleng lands.

    This was reported by the Archbishop of Florianópolis, capital of Santa Catarina, and Chairman of the South IV Regional Office of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB), Dom Murilo Krieger, during the CNBB meeting.

    The letter of support, sent to the bishop, sets out the reasons for the death threats that he has been suffering, and proposes solutions:

    "Together with our brother of the cloth, we challenge the authorities responsible (…) to assume their responsibilities for the mistakes of the past, pay compensation for the lands incorrectly transferred to these families, grant fair recompense for improvements made to the real estate, and carry out the respective resettlement procedures."

    Court Vs Court

    The government order issued by the Brazilian Ministry of Justice which lays down the limits of the Guarani do Araçaí­ land, in the Brazilian southern state of Santa Catarina, was suspended by Federal Judge Narciso Leandro Xavier Baez.

    The decision will have to wait until the final judgment of the ordinary lawsuit brought by the Movement for the Defense of Property and Dignity (DPD) – which brings together ranchers from the region – and by the municipalities of Saudades and Cunha Porá.

    The sentence was passed on June 11. In the suit, the group petitions for the annulment of the government order, published on April 19. Without this government order, it is not possible for Funai (National Indian Foundation) to carry out the physical demarcation of the land and remove the non-indigenous occupants.

    At the same judicial section in Chapecó, on June 6, federal judge André de Souza Fischer came down against the request to suspend the government order that lays down the limits of the Toldo Pinhal land. In this case, it was the municipalities Seara and Arvoredo who brought the suit together with ranchers affected by the demarcation of the indigenous land.

    In his ruling, Fischer said that it was against the law for a first level judge to grant an injunction when it was a minister of state that had issued the act being contested, because these acts can only be the object of a security mandate at the Superior Court of Justice.

    In the Araçaí­ case, judge Baez, who granted the injunction, concluded that the authors "needed to have some degree of security concerning the maintenance of their properties or belongings until a final sentence was passed, in order to guarantee the agricultural production and cattle raising that guarantees their livelihood, and they could not be left in a position where they are suddenly forced to vacate their lands, leaving crops behind that are already being grown."

    On the other hand, the judge that denied the injunction referring to Toldo Pinhal considered that "there is nothing in the government order about the immediate expulsion of the farmers from the land that they are occupying  (…). To the contrary, based on the experience of other processes that are being dealt with by this federal jurisdiction concerning similar demarcations, FUNAI only takes possession after the occupants have voluntarily agreed to the compensation payment for their improvements, and that apparently have yet to be evaluated."

    Appeals against these decisions may be addressed to the federal regional court of the 4th Region, in Porto Alegre.

     

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