News-Letter Nr. 538

CIMI Deliveries proposal to the team in charge of the transition to the Lula administration

In the context of the transition to the Lula administration, Cimi representatives had a meeting with transition officials responsible for indigenous issues to deliver a document prepared by the board of the entity with "Initial Proposals for the Indigenous Policy of the Lula Administration."

The meeting took place on November 12 at the Banco do Brasil Cultural Center in Bras¡lia, where the head office of the transition team was set up. Cimi was represented by secretaries Egon Heck and SebastiÆo Moreira and by its legal advisor, Paulo Machado GuimarÆes, who delivered the document to Gilney Viana, who is a State Representative (Workers' Party - PT- state of Mato Grosso), and to anthropologist M rcio Meira, former Secretary for Culture of the City Hall of Bel‚m, both of whom belong to the transition team.

The document highlights proposals for immediate actions to be taken by the Lula administration and underlines expectations with regard to the definition of a medium- and long-term policy, such as: completion of procedures for demarcating all indigenous lands; removal of invaders from all indigenous lands that have been encroached upon; adoption of programs specifically based on the reality of reemerged indigenous peoples and of "isolated / free" indigenous peoples; and the creation of a new model to be adopted by the Public Administration in relation to indigenous people, one that truly takes into account their social and cultural reality.

During the meeting, M rcio Meira and Gilney Viana said that they will do all within their power to bring the claims of the country's indigenous peoples to the attention of the new federal administration. "We are limited, we have not been sworn in yet and we have no authority. But we have the authority to prevent problems from growing," they said.

In addition to expressing joy and hope over the election of a Government that is truly committed to changes that the large majority of the Brazilian people and indigenous peoples have been yearning for for a long time, Cimi would like to express its desire to contribute toward furthering this historical democratic process by suggesting the adoption of some urgent actions to the new federal administration:

The revoking of Decree n. 1,775/96, which introduced the adversary system in the process of demarcating indigenous lands and encouraged violence, invasions, and pressures of all kinds against the recognition of those lands; and the adoption, instead, of the demarcation procedure approved by indigenous peoples in their Assembly held in April 2001, which is included in the proposal for a new Statute of Indigenous People proposed to the Chamber of Representatives; The revoking of the recent Decree 4,412/02, which provides for the presence of the Armed Forces and of the Federal Police in indigenous lands. This decree is clearly unconstitutional, exposes indigenous peoples to the risk of becoming victims of serious violations of human rights, and hinders a positive dialogue on an important issue for the country, namely, the role of the Armed Forces; Guarantee of full possession, by indigenous communities, of lands traditionally occupied by them, as some of these lands have been involved in serious and protracted conflicts, such as the following ones: Raposa/Serra do Sol (state of Rond"nia); Caramuru - Catarina Paraguay (state of Bahia); Patax¢ of the Pascoal Mount region (state of Bahia); Cerro Marangatu (state of Mato Grosso do Sul); Guarani of the Ara‡a'¡ (state of Santa Catarina); Xukuru (state of Pernambuco), Guaj (state of MaranhÆo) and Roosevelt (state of Rond"nia/state of Mato Grosso); The immediate signing of all Declaratory Rulings and Homologating Decrees related to the demarcation of about 35 indigenous by the ministry of Justice and the Office of the President of the Republic. The signing of a decree incorporating Convention 169 of the ILO to the domestic legal framework, the text of which was approved by the Senate through Legislative Decree n. 143, of June 20, 2002; Actions to persuade the National Congress to approve the Statute of Indigenous Peoples in accordance with a proposal sent by indigenous people to the president of the Chamber of Representatives in April 2001, which was supported by over one million signatures; Appropriation, in the Budget of the Union, of sufficient funds to indemnify occupants of indigenous lands for improvements made therein in good faith, for health care, for education and self-sustainability, and for the demarcation and protection of indigenous lands and of the indigenous heritage; Immediate legal-administrative and judicial protection to indigenous communities where there are conflicts over the possession of indigenous lands.

"This is our initial contribution, because we believe that the Lula administration is in a good position to avoid what has been done by previous federal administrations, which failed to define a policy with concrete actions in relation to indigenous peoples from the outset and, in doing so, allowed acts of aggression, violence, and lack of respect for the rights of indigenous people to continue," stressed Egon Heck, Cimi's Executive Secretary.

Brasília, 14 November 2002
Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi

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