CCPY Update 100 - August 1998


Earlier this year, the biggest fires ever seen in the Amazon region raged over Roraima. Forest engineers who surveyed the area for Brazil's environment agency, IBAMA now estimate that about 3000 sq. km were burnt, most of it in the savannah region.
In the forest area ten percent of the tall trees were seriously affected. While the total area burnt is lower than was originally feared, the experts warn that the risk of forest fires in next year's dry season is now much greater, because of the amount of highly inflammable biomass which has accumulated under the forest canopy.
In their report the forest engineers call for changes in the Amazon development policy which encourages the settlement of smallholders whose only method of clearing land is to burn the vegetation. They found that the worse forest fires had occurred next to areas cleared by small farmers or by loggers. "If these practices continue, the forest located in critical areas this year will be highly susceptible to new fires next year".
The one good result of the Roraima fires was to wake up the Brazilian government to the risk of fire in many other areas of the Amazon where farming and logging have made the forest vulnerable, especially after drought. "Its a bad wind that blows no good", (Há males que vêm para bem) said President Fernando Henrique Cardoso in July when he launched a new programme to prevent and fight forest fires in the Amazon, called PROARCO.


Financed by ECHO, the European Community' Humanitarian Aid programme, representatives of Oxfam, France Libertes, Medecins Sans Frontieres and Movimondo visited Roraima in May to assess the needs of the indigenous communities affected by the drought and the ensuing fires. They had meetings with members of CCPY, CIR and the Catholic church. The money donated by the EC, a million ECUs, is being channelled through the agencies into projects for emergency medical and food supplies and seeds, and for drilling wells and building dams.
The money allocated to the Yanomami area is being used mainly to buy medicines and medical equipment to last for a period of 6 to 8 months. The main problems are malaria, respiratory diseases and diarrhea. The health situation among the indians was worsened by the problems caused by the fires, which coincided with a breakdown in supplies from FNS, the government public health agency, after the official drugs laboratory CEME was closed down.
The Brazilian government's own humanitarian agency, Comunidade Solidaria, has donated 170 tons of food for drought and fire victims in Roraima.


Because of the shortage of medicines in Roraima, drugs for the Yanomami area have had to be purchased in bulk by CCPY in Sao Paulo and flown to Boa Vista. In July one consigment of drugs disappeared while being transported by Varig airline, but the company quickly reimbursed CCPY and more drugs were bought.
The CCPY health team in Boa Vista have been working overtime to check the drugs when they arrive and repack them in smaller boxes for distribution to all the health posts in the Yanomami area. It was decided that the distribution should be carried out by the DSY (Yanomami Health Programme) pharmacy which already has an established routine for attending the posts. While awaiting distribution, the medicines are being stored at the Casa da Cura, the Diocesan Hospital.
Thanks to the collaboration of overseas and Brazilian NGOs, the church and government agencies, the Yanomami will get the medicines they need.


FNS Health Workers Want Better Pay and Conditions

In June 50 FNS health workers who work in the DSY threatened to strike for better pay and conditions.
The question was raised in the Senate by Senator Eduardo Suplicy who remembered that the DSY was the only such indigenous health programme in Brazil and that working in it demanded vocation, financial reward and training.
"Thanks to the creation of the DSY seven years ago, the situation of genocide which existed between 1987 and 1990 when the Yanomami territory was unrecognised and had been invaded by 40,000 garimpeiros, with an annual mortality rate among the Yanomami of 500, was reduced to 225 deaths in 1991 and 124 in 1993. In 1997 there were 125 deaths, while the birth rate has risen from 29.1 to 45.56/1000".
Senator Suplicy said the Yanomami are the most numerous group in the Americas who still largely maintain their pre-Colombian cultural patrimony. "They are a cultural and human treasure whom we should treat with every care, affection and attention......the improvement in their health depends on guaranteeing their permanence in their lands, the definitive expulsion of the garimpeiros, and a fair solution to the demands of the FNS employees in Roraima".
The FNS workers have accepted a proposal that includes a daily gratification for days spent in the Yanomami area and a special payment for health workers in indigenous areas which will depend on congressional approval.
An urgent solution is needed: in just one of the regions attended by the FNS, for example, the Auaris region, between January and August of this year 39 deaths were registered.

Whooping Cough

In July a suspected case of whooping cough in a child at Toototobi led the CCPY medical team to carry out an emergency programme of medical prevention amongst the non-vaccinated population there, a total of 30 people. Only after informing the FNS of the suspect case were the CCPY doctors told that in April there were 3 confirmed cases of whooping cough in Novo Demini. If these cases had been known about earlier, a preventive programme could have been undertaken at Toototobi. Whooping cough can be a fatal disease for indians. This, unfortunately, was an example of a failure in the collaboration between the DSY and the CCPY.

The Death of Bruno

Some idea of the physical and emotional stress suffered by the health workers can be seen in a recent report from CCPY doctor Claudio Esteves de Oliveira, describing the unexpected death of 12 year old Bruno, the youngest son of chief Toto: "Joao (nursing auxiliary and microscopist) was in his maloca when they told him about an outbreak of diarrhea at the Kokoiu maloca and he set off for there on foot. He walked all night, treated the sick with the help of another nursing auxiliary who was there, then returned next day to the post. On the way he developed a fever and back at the post found he had malaria. In the afternoon Yanomami came to tell him that Bruno had diarrhea. Over the radio Joao told me that he was too ill to walk there. We decided to ask the Yanomami to bring Bruno to the post. Toto's maloca isn't far away and althogh Joao always makes a big effort to go to them, this time he couldn't do it, he was feeling too ill.....
"The Yanomami arrived at 6 o'clock at night carrying Bruno. He was unconscious, and did not respond to painful stimuli, but Joao could not tell whether he was still alive because the wailing, weeping, the shamans at work, made it difficult to hear his heartbeats. It was a moment of great tension not only for those at Toototobi, but for those at the health centre at Balawau who were in radio contact".
By radio the doctor gave orientation for reanimation techniques, but without success. Later Toto said they believe that Bruno died on the way, where there is a big tree fallen across the path from the maloca to the post.
"The death of Bruno left a deep sadness in everyone who knew him and I don't know whether one day we will get over this pain we are feeling now. There is a feeling of failure among the health team who cannot understand what happened to a boy who less than 48 hours before was helping us with our work.
.... Toto looked after him with a very special love. He was a boy who was loved by everyone. Ten days ago, Toto asked me to leave one of the health team always in his maloca. It isn't easy looking after people you know. It ends like this. I dont know how Im going to look Toto in the eye again. Joao wants to leave. We are all in a state of shock."
Altogether 26 indians in the Toto and Kokoiu malocas were treated for infectious diarrhea, but Bruno was the only one who died.
News of more cases in another village has just reached the health team. Preventive measures, like disinfection and sterilization of material have been redoubled.


In May FUNAI calculated that only 180 garimpeiros remained inside the Yanomami reserve, and that 3 planes continued to fly in supplies, using ordinary petrol, as the sale of aviation fuel was controlled by the Federal Police. But without a permanent operation to detain illicit planes and prevent garimpeiros being supplied, a new mass invasion could occur. Those garimpeiros who had been detained were released after being heard by the police and immediately tried to return, as they had no other employment.
In July, according to the final report on Operation Yanomami, a total of 1174 garimpeiros had been removed and between 100 and 130 remained in the area. The report also said there were ten clandestine airstrips inside the Yanomami area. The operation cost R$1.7 million.
FUNAI also said that talks were in progress with Venezuelan authorities to avoid diplomatic incidents, repatriate garimpeiros detained by the Venezuelan police, and maintain close surveillance of the frontier from the Venezuelan side, to remove any remaining groups of garimpeiros.
FUNAI said that IBAMA has been asked to carry out a detailed study of environmental damage caused by mining and propose ways of recovering degraded areas.


In April CCPY, CIR and the Yanomami submitted a series of requests to the federal government's regional policy minister in Brasilia.
For the Yanomami area they had requested:
1) the removal of garimpeiros and prevention of further invasions
2) the re-establishment of the demarcation frontiers of the Yanomami territory
3) the removal of ranchers and smallholders from the Repartimento River region
4) the immediate dismissal of the FUNAI employee who killed a Yanomami in the Ajarani II region 4 years ago
5) control of hunters around the periphery of the Yanomami area, especially those coming from the settlement projects like the one on the Apiau River
6) an end to the building of roads and settlements in the forests at the edge of the Yanomami area
On 6th July FUNAI HQ in Brasilia sent a letter to FUNAI in Boa Vista asking for information about these six demands. So far, nothing has happened.


FUNAI president of Sulivan Silvestre de Oliveira said in an interview to the newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo on 19th July that after demarcation, the challenge is to make indian reserves productive. He said that FUNAI must abandon paternalism and encourage the indians to be self-sufficient.
Oliveira, a public prosecutor from Goias state without experience of indigenous affairs when he was chosen for the post 11 months ago, said "We have 330,000 indians living in 11% of Brazil's territory, in a state of total misery, when we know that beneath their lands there is a huge wealth of mineral deposits and on top of them, the greatest richness of biodiversity in the planet. This must change." He said that the forests in indigenous areas should also be exploited, with tough laws to protect the environment and guarantee that the communities benefit. The indians themselves would have to have approved forest management projects.
Oliveira said he did not approve of garimpeiros, but saw no reason why the indians should not provide labour for mining companies or set up their own mining associations. He said such activities would have to be approved by congress and by the local communities, and criticised the bill now before congress, presented by Roraima senator Romero Juca, which would open up mining in indigenous areas without any safeguards for the indians.


Dozens of federal police agents have recently been dismissed all over Brazil for their involvement in corruption rackets. Among police officers named by the public prosecutors office are two former superintendents in Roraima, Suely Goerisch and William Ramos. They are accused of refurbishing the police department building with R$287,000 that had been transferred to the Federal Police in Boa Vista by FUNAI for the "fiscalization, vigilance, the protection of lives and indigenous lands". The businessman who got the contract for doing up the police HQ is now detained in it, accused of ordering the murder of an income tax inspector.
Although they were first accused in April the two federal police officers are still free and the money, urgently needed to preserve the Yanomami area, has not yet been returned.


The Brazilian government has an Internet site offering investment opportunities in the Amazon areas where infrastructure projects are underway. One of them is the BR-174 highway linking Manaus to Boa Vista and the Venezuelan frontier. Only 160 km remains to be paved.
Investment opportunities in Roraima include "mining, bridge and roadbuilding, tourism, telecommunications, soybean and rice production and trade with Venezuela." New agricultural areas covering 4 million hectares will become available in the East of Roraima.
The site contains information on Roraima, its industry, commerce, livestock, crops, gold production, climate, vegetation, but not a single word on the state's indigenous population or the fact that 45% of Roraima's area is indian land. From the government perspective, it is as though the indians of Roraima simply do not exist.
In the state of Amazonas the site has information on a new bioindustrial pole to study the biotechnological potential of local flora over the next five years. There is no mention of the indigenous populations who over the centuries have accumulated knowledge of at least 1000 plants.


In an interview to the Reuters news agency Carlos Oiti Berbert, president of CPRM, a government geological survey company, said that Brazil's Amazon frontier is one of the last places in the world where large new discoveries of gold are still to be found.
As 80% of existing mines are open pit, there is still a huge unexplored potential in deeper seams. "We are just beginning to mine in Brazil, we are only exploiting the minerals on the surface. In South Africa, for example, they are going 3 to 4,000 metres deep." Nothing will happen though until the present low gold prices begin to move upwards.
Commenting on garimpeiros, Berbert said the CPRM would be happy to see a reduction in their numbers for environmental reasons and in any case most accessible alluvial gold is coming to an end.


The first bioplant laboratory in South America has been opened at the Federal University of Roraima. It will breed an insect, the nematodos used for the biological control of the malaria mosquito. A team from Cuba, where the nematodos' potential was discovered, will train laboratory staff and the agents who will introduce the larva-destroying insect into malarial areas in September. Apparently nematodos is not environmentally damaging.


The Human Rights office of the Catholic Church in Puerto Ayacucho, Venezuela, has denounced the illegal presence of tourists in the Upper Orinoco region. This area is banned to tourism in order to protect the Yanomami who live there, but different Venezuelan government departments with no jurisdiction over indigenous affairs have been giving permission for foreign tourists to visit Yanomami villages.


Annual General Meeting

In July CCPY held a 2 day AGM with staff from both the Sao Paulo and Boa Vista offices and members of the Council.
Gale Gomez, linguist and adviser to the Education programme was also present.
Anthropologist Carlos Alberto Ricardo of ISA (Socio-Environmental Institute) was elected vice-president.
It was decided that funds should be raised to carry out a survey of the Yanomami area by satellite and on the ground to map degraded areas and the movements of indian communities to provide the CCPY with more accurate and up to date information.
Items discussed included the organisational structure of the CCPY, the need to reduce administrative costs, a viability study to look at the pros and cons of transferring the administration from Sao Paulo to Boa Vista, the improvement of communications between the two offices by means of weekly e-mail bulletins from project coordinators (they have already begun) and a more regular supply of information to staff in the Yanomami area.
In the publications area, it was decided to suspend the mailing of Update in Portuguese, which means that both English and Portuguese editions will now only be available by e-mail; create a home page on the Internet; relaunch the publication Uhiri with articles of a more analytical nature.
In Boa Vista, where the CCPY operation has outgrown its present rented building, it was decided to hire an architect to design the new office planned for a site across the road.
The need for an economic project for the indians was raised, as was the proposal that a number of those who have become literate in Yanomami and speak some Portuguese through the education project should study Portuguese in Boa Vista. This would give them much more fluency than they can obtain in the villages, giving them access to other information that they can then pass on to their communities.
The ethical criteria for using Yanomami material or the name of the Yanomami was discussed and it was decided to consult a lawyer specialised in intellectual property rights.

Linguistics Course for Teachers

In July American linguist Gale Gomez came to give a workshop on the Yanomami language to the teachers of the Education Project. Several of the workers in the Health programme also took part.

A Lifetime's Work - Twenty Years of Photographs

"Yanomami" 20 years of photographs by Claudia Andujar, was launched at the International Photography Bienal in Curitiba in August.
During the Bienal, Brazil's first Museum of Photography will be opened in Curitiba. The museum collection includes 85 photographs donated by Claudia. She hopes that these photographs, which represent a lifetime of work, will also be seen in other Brazilian cities and abroad as part of a travelling museum exhibition. A book is being launched by a São Paulo editor, DBA, with 80 photographs, a text by Bruce Albert and statements by Davi Yanomami.

Twenty Years Defending the Right of the Yanomami to be the Yanomami

This year the CCPY celebrates 20 years of existence. During those twenty years it has seen sucesses and failures. The original aim, the demarcation of the Yanomami area, has been achieved. The first indigenous health programme operated jointly with the government and other NGOs, the DSY, has been implanted. An education project has begun and each year more Yanomami are learning to read and write. An agroforestry project is planned.
Organisations in many countries have supported the work of the CCPY because they want to help the Yanomami and they recognise the seriousness and responsibility of the CCPY. Last year the Brazilian government awarded the CCPY one of its annual human rights prizes in recognition of its efforts to preserve the Yanomami.
At the same time, these 20 years have seen disasters hit the Yanomami: the invasion of over 40,000 wildcat gold prospectors (garimpeiros), bringing disease, malnutrition, cultural and environmental degradation: the 1993 massacre in Haximu when garimpeiros slaughtered men, women and children: epidemics of malaria and other illnesses: this year's drought and forest fires.
Over the years the Yanomami, like the other indigenous communities, have also suffered from the inconstancy of Brazil's indigenous policy, subject to political and economic pressures, with advances and retreats. The chronic underfunding of the agencies whose job it is to protect the indians and their environment means that even when there is goodwill, all too often there is not the practical means to protect indigenous communities.

The People Who Make Up the CCPY

The CCPY was set up in 1978 as an informal group of people who wanted to save the Yanomami from extinction by getting the government to recognise the area they had lived in for centuries as the Yanomami Indigenous Park.
They were Bruce Albert, Carlo Zacquini, Claudia Andujar and Maria Helena Pimentel. Together they prepared a proposal for the creation of the Yanomami Park that was handed in to the Brazilian Minister of the Interior in 1979 and served as the basic document for the campaign that lasted 13 years.

The original group:

BRUCE ALBERT, French anthropologist, has studied the Yanomami since 1975 and works as a researcher for ORSTOM (Paris). He is based in Paris but regularly spends long spells in Brazil acting as adviser on health and education programmes to the CCPY.

CARLO ZACQUINI, who came to Roraima from Italy as a member of a Catholic mission in 1965. Based in Boa Vista, Roraima, he has worked with CCPY since 1978.

CLAUDIA ANDUJAR, naturalized Brazilian, photographer who met the Yanomami when she went to the Amazon to take photographs for the magazine Realidade in 1971. Since 1979 she has been the coordinator of the Yanomami campaign and the Sao Paulo office. She coordinates the education programme since 1996.

MARIA HELENA PIMENTEL, a lawyer, helped to put the Park proposal into legal form. She became CCPY´s first president in 1984. The same year CCPY was registered as a legal Brazilian, non-profit, non-governmental organization. Its founding members are: Abel de Barros Lima, Alcida R. Ramos, Carlos Alberto Ricardo, Claudia Andujar, Francisco Pascalicchio and Maria Helena Pimentel.

LAYMERT GARCIA DOS SANTOS, a social-scientist, has been CCPY president since 1997. CARLOS ALBERTO RICARDO, anthropologist, has been vice president since June 1998. The steering committee is made up of Carlo Zacquini, Carlos Alberto Ricardo, Laymert Garcia dos Santos e Maria Helena B. Pimentel. The executive committee is made up of the executive secretary Claudia Andujar and the coordinators of the projects.

Further members are Bruce Albert, doctors Claudio Esteves de Oliveira and Deise Alves Francisco, and Jan Rocha, journalist.

Besides Claudia, four people work in the Sao Paulo office:
FERNANDO BITTENCOURT, administrator, looks after projects;
IVONE FERNANDES GOMIDES, financial assistant, looks after the accounts, payments;
LUCIA COUTINHO, copywriter, translates Updates and other communications into Portuguese;
MARCONI AGUIAR, messenger and office boy.

The Sao Paulo office is ultimately responsible for fundraising and application of the donations received by the CCPY for its different programmes, for the preparation of budgets, for campaigns and publications and the visibility of the organization. It maintains regular contact with different agencies and departments of the Brazilian government and with donor organisations. It receives and answers a constant stream of phone calls, emails, faxes and letters from the press, NGOs, diplomats, both Brazilians and overseas in search of information about the Yanomami. It receives and organises personal visits. It coordinates the education programme.

6 people work in the Boa Vista office:
2 administrative assistants
1 secretary
1 radio operator
1 driver/supplies officer
1 coordinator for the infrastructure and the campaign.

The Health Programme is supported by COSAI, a department of the National Health Foundation and works closely together with NISIRR (Roraima’s Interinstitutional Nucleus for Indigenous Health).


The nursing auxiliaries and microscopists are:

3 Yanomami are being trained as microscopists.

The Education Team is made up of 4 teachers:
MARCOS WESLEY DE OLIVEIRA- local coordinator
The fourth teacher will be hired in October.

The Boa Vista office administers the health programme, storing and shipping medicines and supplies for both the health and education programmes.

It receives and answers phone calls, faxes, emails from the press, both local and international. It is in daily contact with the different local government agencies and other organisations working in the indigenous area. It is in radio contact with the CCPY personnel who are in the field and organises transport between Boa Vista and the different posts. It organises visits to the Yanomami area by representatives of donor agencies, diplomats, the press.


Part of CCPY's work is funded by overseas agencies: they include FAFO and the Rainforest Foundation of Norway, Oxfam and the Earth Love Foundation of the UK, and France Libertes. Survival International and IWGIA have contributed with important campaign work, as well as the Consolata Missionaries.
The European Community and the overseas development agencies of the UK and German governments have also contributed to the health project. The World Bank opened the doors for the health project that is being funded by the National Health Foundation´s specialized agency COSAI. MEC/PNUD and UNICEF have contributed to the education programme. Over the years CCPY has received support for its campaigns from a great number of organizations, among them the British, Canadian, Australian, Swiss and German embassies. In Brazil CEDI, NDI, CIMI, Diocese of Roraima, Comissão Pro-Indio of SP, among others, have worked extensively on the campaign for the demarcation of the Yanomami area. In Congress we had important support from former Senator Severo Gomes, who died in an accident in 1992. More recently Professor Paulo Sergio Pinheiro has given us invaluable help.


The world would be a poorer place without the Yanomami, survivors of another age whose lifestyle preserves the rainforest. Unfortunately we know that the efforts to invade their land in search of minerals, to reduce the size of their reserve, to eventually turn the Yanomami into dependent, landless, cultureless shantytown dwellers on the edge of white society will continue.
By providing health care to stop them dying of disease, by preparing the Yanomami to face the surrounding society on equal terms through education, the CCPY and all its partners hope to ensure that the unique knowledge, culture and traditions of the Yanomami will be recognised and respected before it is too late and that they will be allowed to find their own place in the world.


Links to other copies:

The CCPY is a Brazilian, independent, and non-profitmaking organisation. Its main aims are to support and defend the life, the rights, the culture and the land of the Yanomami people.

Rua Manoel da Nóbrega 111, cj. 32
04001-900 São Paulo, SP, Brazil.
Tel: +55-11-289 1200, Fax: +55-11-284 6997
Editorial Coordination: Claudia Andujar.
Jornalist and editor: Jan Rocha.
Correspondent: Carlo Zacquini.


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