News-Letter Nr. 496

Tension in the Cerro Marangatu indigenous land

The news of a new preliminary order for repossession, issued by the federal judge of Dourados, Janete Lima Miguel, determining that the Kaiowá are to be expelled from the Cerro Marangatu tekohá (indigenous land), has increased the tension in Antônio João, state of Mato Grosso do Sul, 255 km from Campo Grande, the capital. The indigenous land was reoccupied in 1998, fifty years after farmer Pio Silva, father of the mayor of the municipality, Dárcio Queiroz, invaded it. About 500 indigenous people are in the land, where the Fronteira farm is located today. Other leaders are arriving to support their resistance. The deadline for the preliminary order to be complied with expires on January 30. The Kaiowá want the farmer to leave the land.

Funai and the Office of the Attorney-General are trying to persuade the Federal Regional Court (TRF) in São Paulo to suspend the preliminary order. An indigenous commission came to Brasília this week to hold meetings with officials of Funai and of the Office of the Attorney-General. They asked them to make an effort to suspend preliminary orders for eviction and demanded from Funai the publication of an administrative ruling authorizing the demarcation of the land. This is the second attempt to expel the Kaiowá from the Cerro Marangatu area this year. On January 10, the judge of the TRF, Gilberto Jordan, suspended the effects of a judicial order issued by federal judge Pedro Pereira dos Santos as acting judge in Dourados. Displeased, the farmers filed an appeal against that decision and a new repossession order was then issued as a result of that action.

The Guarani and the Kaiowá were violently expelled from the Cerro Marangatu tekohá between the 1940s and 1950s. At that time, farmer Pio Silva even burned down a Prayer House, killing about 20 indigenous people, many of whom were children, who tried to resist. The story is told by older leaders who are still alive and involved in the reoccupation action. The oldest Kaiowá is 125 years old. There is an indigenous cemetery in this tekohá.

Indigenous councilman is ambushed but escapes unharmed

Councilman Agnaldo dos Santos (Workers'Party - PT), known as Agnaldo Pataxó, escaped from an ambush on Tuesday (the 22nd) night as he was driving from the city of Pau Brasil,, to the village. Agnaldo, who is a member of the Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe community, was accompanied by two female indigenous and a male. In the beginning of the 5-km road, they saw various persons connected to ex-mayor Durval Santana, who is known to be involved with gunmen. After driving for 100 meters they saw a man on a motorcycle and 200 meters further down the road they saw another man, also on a motorcycle, who followed them and disappeared in the forest as soon as he noticed that he had been seen. Five hundred meters after that point, they saw a van stopped at a crossroads. Agnaldo Pataxó slowed down his car and as he approached the van he saw that its driver was the son-in-law of ex-mayor Durval Santana, Nizan. The Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe forced his way with his car through the forest and managed to arrive at his community unharmed.

This is the climate of insecurity that the Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe are facing. They have been fighting for over 20 years for the demarcation of the Caramuru-Catarina-Paraguassu indigenous land, which spreads for 54,000 hectares that have been invaded by livestock and cocoa farms. In October of last year, 66 of these farms were reoccupied in an attempt to speed up the demarcation of the land. On January 2, one of the members of the community, Milton Matos, was murdered. The Federal Police spent some time in the region, but left at the end of the year. The indigenous people have been repeatedly reporting the ostensible presence of gunmen in the region and death threats received by the indigenous councilman, chief Gérson Melo, and by leaders of their people. Federal representative Walter Pinheiro (Workers' Party - PT - state of Bahia) asked the minister of Justice, Aloysio Nunes Pereira, to send the police back to the region. The Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe are still waiting for the Supreme Federal Court (STF) to judge the Action to Annul Title Deeds inside the indigenous area. The action was filed with the court 19 years ago.

Brasília, January 24, 2002.
Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi

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