|News-Letter Nr. 505|
A task force made up of Federal Police agents, Army soldiers, Funai and Ibama officials, and attorneys of the Brazilian Department of Justice supported by various indigenous entities launched a week ago an operation to remove almost 3,000 miners from the land of the Cinta Larga indigenous people, which they invaded late in 1999 to mine for diamonds in it. The task force will implement a more permanent plan to support this people.
This is the fourth time in 10 years that federal authorities launch an operation to remove invaders from the land of the Cinta Larga, a people of Mondé linguistic origin whose population was reduced from 650 people in 1993 to less than 400 today. The area, located in the south tip of the state of Rondônia and northwest of the state of Mato Grosso, has large reserves of diamonds. The Federal Police estimates that gems amounting to 50 million dollars were smuggled from the region to Belgium last year.
The presence of miners in the area, in addition to the also illegal activities of woodcutters, jeopardizes the group's social fabric. Many indigenous families stopped fishing and hunting to associate with the invaders in exchange for money. Some indigenous people are charging up to R$ 10,000 thousand to allow machines to be brought to the area. And there are reports that Funai and Ibama employees are also involved in the illegal exploitation and trade of diamonds. The violence prevailing among the miners themselves is another consequence of their illegal exploitation activities. According to the police, about 40 men were murdered in the region in recent months.
Alcoholism, drugs, prostitution, malnutrition, and social disaggregation are the more visible harms caused by the actions of miners and woodcutters in the lands of the Cinta Larga and also in the territories of the Zoró, Gavião, and Suruí in the states of Rondônia and Mato Grosso. Referring to the brutal murder of Carlito Kaban Cinta Larga in Aripuanã (state of Mato Grosso) on the night of December 19, Dal Poz compared the present situation to the one prevailing in 1963, when gunmen hired by rubber plantation owners Arruda and Junqueira machine-gunned a Cinta Larga village located on the banks of the Aripuanã river in an episode that became known in history as the "Parallel 11 Massacre."
Cimi's executive secretary, Egon Heck, compares the situation of the Cinta Larga to the one faced by the Yanomami in the mid-1980s, when their lands in Roraima were invaded by thousands of miners who left a trail of violence and epidemics that killed at least 1,500 indigenous people.
The eviction operation will be over in a few weeks, but Indianists are now mostly concerned about what should be done to prevent the indigenous land from being invaded again and about how to ensure a stable situation for the Cinta Larga to recover their lifestyle and dignity.
The anthropologist João Dal Poz reported that businessmen are identifying new areas to exploit timber in the land beginning in May, after the rainy season.
Last Saturday, March 23, ten musical bands played at the auditorium of the Latin American Memorial in São Paulo for three hours to disseminate cultural aspects of Latin American indigenous peoples.
The show was part of the 2002 Fraternity Campaign - "Fraternity and indigenous peoples, For a Land without Evil," and was aimed at raising funds for the campaign, as Cáritas Brasileira does every year. The money, collected through contributions made by phone and at parishes, will be used to fund projects for indigenous peoples.
The artists who played in the event included the Choir of Guarani Children, the Xukuru-Kariri band (from the state of Minas Gerais), the Maypy band from Bolivia, singers Martin Coplas, who sang parts of the Mess for a Land without Evil, and Silvio Brito, in addition to the Mawaca, Tobas, and Viola de Bolso bands and Marlui Miranda.
The event, which was broadcast live to all Brazil by the Vida TV Network and the Catholic Radio Network, was sponsored by Cáritas Brasileira, Cimi, and CNBB - National Conference of Bishops of Brazil.
Brasília, March 28, 2002
Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi
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