News-Letter Nr. 503

Uiramutã village resists threats of the Army

Outraged with a recent attempt made by Army troops to invade the Uiramutã village, 40 indigenous people, including women, of the village and of neighboring communities decided to take turns in keeping guard over the village. The Uiramutã village, where indigenous people of the Makuxi ethnic group live, is located in the Raposa/Serra do Sol indigenous land, in the northeast region of the State of Roraima, and its demarcation has not been ratified by the president of the Republic so far.

On March 1, members of the 6th Special Border Platoon threatened to invade the village on the pretext of having been instructed to carry out a topographic survey in its south area. The city hall of the municipality of Uiramutã has plans to build a runway in that location in front of military facilities occupied by the Army platoon. Thirty-five indigenous families live in that area.

The Army and the city hall have been constantly trying to enter the area. As part of an agreement with the state administration, the city hall intends to build the runway in the area after having built a school 20 meters away from the site which is already in operation. With these maneuvers, the authorities are trying to defeat claims that the site in question is an indigenous area and undermine the resistance of its traditional indigenous inhabitants.

In order to avoid a confrontation with the military, the chief of the Uiramutã village, Orlando Pereira da Silva, held a meeting with all members of the community and other leaders of the region. Collectively, they decided to allow an Army topographer to enter the area. The topographer and three soldiers, one of whom was carrying a rifle, marked the geographic coordinates and set up landmarks exactly where the city hall intends to build the runway.

The threats of the Army scared the population of the Uiramutã village. On the other hand, the threats enhanced its resistance against plans to build military facilities for the 6th Special Border Platoon inside the indigenous land and led neighbors living in the Caraparu, Maloquinha, Pedra Branca, Morro, Cana, Urinduk, Caracanã, Makukem, Willimon and Enseada villages to stand by them in solidarity and help them keep guard over the community. The indigenous people decided to build houses in front of the site set apart for the runway in order to prevent the city hall and the Army from carrying out their project.

The Indigenous Council of Roraima reported the actions of the military and said that 13 military officers and soldiers were seen carrying out maneuvers inside the community. "The Army has been resorting to psychological terrorism to scare people in the Uiramutã community and make them drop a lawsuit they filed to lay an embargo on all actions of the 6th Special Border Platoon in the area," the Council said in a note issued on March 9. The Council insists that homologating the bounds of the Raposa/Serra do Sol indigenous area, where 14,000 members of the Makuxi, Ingarikó, Wapixana, Taurepang and Patamana communities live, is the only way to put an end to the impasse between the military, indigenous people and squatters.

Truká commission reports undue interference of the federal police

A commission made up of nine members of the Truká community led by chief Ailson dos Santos reported in Brasília that agents of the Federal Police have been creating problems for the Truká on the pretext of using the premises of an old experimental station of the Agriculture/Livestock Reseach Institute (IPA) as an aircraft base for operations against the drug traffic. This situation was reported in a letter sent to different authorities in the federal capital, including the secretary general of the CNBB, Dom Raymundo Damasceno, on March 13.

According to the indigenous commission, building a runway inside the indigenous land, located on a large island in the São Francisco river called Assunção, in the municipality of Cabrobó, state of Pernambuco, is completely unnecessary. The indigenous people reported that the mayor of Cabrobó has placed the Rural Producer Market of the municipality at the disposal of the Federal Police already. The market is located in a site once used as an aircraft base.

The indigenous people also reported arbitrary and prejudice-driven actions taken against the Truká not only by the Federal Police, but also by the military police, state attorney Epaminondas, and judge Maria Segunda. According to the commission, this judge has been issuing arrest warrants against Truká leaders without listening to all parties involved in reports of alleged wrongdoings beforehand.

The indigenous commission asked the authorities to whom the letter was sent to support them in their plea for federal courts to take care of all legal proceedings involving the Truká people, "so that we can be sure that we will have a fair judgment."

Brasília, 14 March 2002
Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi

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