After waiting for six years, the Xukuru can now celebrate the much-expected homologation of their traditional territory. The decree signed by the president of the Republic, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, homologating the decision was published in the Diario Official of Wednesday, May 2. The Xukuru indigenous area, covering 27,555 hectares, had been demarcated in 1995, but because of political pressures from invaders, including from relatives of the vice president of the Republic, Marco Maciel (Liberal Front Party - state of Pernambuco), the federal administration postponed the demarcation for as long as it could. In the meantime, violence flared and the Xukuru suffered irrecoverable losses.
The conflict caused by the dispute for the ownership of the land, frequent persecutions and death threats from invaders resulted in murders. In 1995, Geraldo Rolim da Mota Filho, the lawyer of the indigenous people, was murdered and in 1998 the chief of the Xukuru, Francisco de Assis Araújo (Xicão Xukuru), was killed. Before that, in 1993, José Everaldo Rodrigues Bispo, son of shaman Zequinha, had been killed.
Legalization of the land
The fact that the homologation decree was signed by the president, which constitutes the penultimate step in the administrative procedure for demarcating an indigenous area, represents another victory of the Xukuru in their struggle for their territory. The demarcation itself, which took place in 1995, was only consolidated after the indigenous people began to reoccupy their traditional territory more actively on their own initiative in the early 1990s and to expel some invading farmers from it. "The homologation should be seen as a result of the pressure applied by the indigenous people, which forced the federal administration to comply with the constitutional requirement of demarcating indigenous areas," said the vice president of Cimi, Saulo Feitosa.
The homologation decree in itself will not settle the conflict. There are 281 invaders in the Xukuru area who will be removed from it by Funai and, for this purpose, the Union must earmark specific funds to compensate them for improvements made in good faith in the area. The struggle to ensure the availability of the required resources will continue. But the Xukuru are worried with the truculence of farmers and the possibility of violent reactions against them. For this reason, they want all remaining acts related to the legalization of their area to be carried out expeditiously, namely, the removal of invaders from their territory and registration of the land with the appropriate real estate title registry and with the Federal Patrimony office. "It is a fierce struggle. We must be very determined to win it. We have suffered many losses and casualties and a lot of blood had been shed, but we can only win by fighting with all our might," said chief Marcos Luidson, the son of Xicão.
Party and Assembly
Next Sunday, the 6th, the Xukuru will be celebrating the signing of the homologation decree with a Toré (traditional dance). On May 18-20 they will be holding an assembly to celebrate the victory and review the course of the indigenous struggle. It will also be an important occasion to protest against the impunity of the murderers of chief Xicão Xukuru.
In addition to the Xukuru area, the Diario Official of last Wednesday included a package of decrees homologating nine other indigenous territories. The homologation of some of them was much expected, such as those of the Javari Valley (state of Amazonas) of the Matis, Mayorune and Kulina peoples and of a large number of indigenous people who never had any contact with non-indigenous individuals, and of the Panará area (states of Pará and Mato Grosso) of the Panará (or Kreen-akarore) people, who fought very much for the possibility of returning to their traditional territory, located in the Iriri river area, and won a favorable sentence for damages filed against the Union because of physical and moral damages they suffered when their community was transferred to the Xingu Indigenous Park in 1968.
The areas that were homologated this week were the following: the Kaxinawá Ashaninka do Rio Breu area (Kampa, Kaxinawá), the Kaxinawá do Baixo Rio Jordão area (Kaxinawá), the Kaxinawá Praia Carapanã area (Kaxinawá), and the the Poyanawa area (Poyanawa) in the state of Acre; the Mawétek (Kanamari) and the Vale do Javari areas in the state of Amazonas; the Brejo do Burgo (Pankararé) area in the state of Bahia; the Xukuru land in the state of Pernambuco; the Chão Preto area (Xavante) in the state of Mato Grosso; and the Panará area between the states of Mato Grosso and Pará.
Brasília, 3 May 2001.
Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi