News-Letter Nr. 546

Wave of violence against indigenous peoples

The last 15 days has witnessed deplorable acts of violence against indigenous peoples in Brazil in which three tribesmen were brutally killed, two of them in the struggle for their lands. Anti-indigenous acts occurring from Northern to Southern Brazil have caused indignation amongst civil society and the government.

Last Thursday, on January 9th, the body of the Macuxi tribesman, Aldo da Silva Mota, 52 years of age, was found buried in a shallow grave on the Retiro Ranch, located within the indigenous lands of Raposa Serra do Sol, in Roraima. Aldo had been called in by employees of the ranch to get a calf there and never came back. The Coroner&rsquos Office &ndash IML in Boa Vista &ndash declared that Aldo&rsquos death was due to an "undetermined natural cause", the death certificate was signed by coroner Ricardo Gouveia. The Indianist Council of Roriama &ndash CIR, as well as the victim&rsquos family did not accept this result and requested an independent report. On January 13th, by determination of the Minister of Justice, Aldo&rsquos body was transferred to the IML (Coroner&rsquos Office) in Brasilia, for a corpus delicti autopsy. According to information from the Forensic Anthropology Department Coordinator of the IML of the Federal District, Dr. Eduardo Reis, although the report has not yet been issued, a bullet wound was observed in Aldo&rsquos back. Dr. Eduardo Resi will leave for the crime scene tonight, in order to gather further evidence, such as the projectile itself, that will confirm that it was a murder.

On January 6th, in Miraguai, in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, three young men, one of them a minor, beat and stoned 77-year old Kaingang tribesman, Leopoldo Crespo to death, while he slept on the sidewalk in town. " The kicks and cuts using a broken bottle that killed the aged Kaingang, Leopoldo Crespo, have hurt all Brazilians. And they have shamed us as a nation. A communiqu‚ repudiating the act issued on January 9th by Cimi-Sul stated: "In order to become the great nation we dream of being, and that we are building, racism and intolerance must be abolished and the right to be different assured." This act brings to mind the brutal manner in which Galdino was killed in 1997, burned alive by middle-class youths from Brasilia.

Early Monday the 13th, another tribesman was brutally murdered in Juti, state of Mato Grosso do Sul, some 280 kilometers from Campo Grande. Guarani-Kaiow  Chief Marcos Veron, 74 years of age, was beaten to death by an employee of the Brasilia do Sul ranch after having led some 100 tribe members on Saturday to retake the Taquara indigenous land, who the rancher had named Brasilia do Sul ranch. According to reports from the Guarani, on Sunday the 12th, the ranch manager and policemen went to the camp and said that they were there to protect them and that nothing would befall them. During the wee hours of the 13th, some 56 people, among them ranch hands and policemen, invaded the camp and attacked the indians. Six women were raped, one tribesman was shot, one person killed and two others missing, community members report.

The president of Cimi was in a meeting with the Minister of Justice on Monday, when the news came in. Cimi has requested that the Minister take urgent measures and act to avert this wave of violence, as well as to immediately announce its new indianist policy.

Arrest warrants have already been issued for the ranch manager, Nivaldo Alves de Oliveira, who is in hiding and for the employees Estevão Romero and Carlos Roberto dos Santos, who have already been taken into custody. The Federal Police are still on the scene gathering evidence of the crime.

Veron&rsquos body was buried yesterday on the ranch, authorized by the court. The burial was attended by eight vehicles of the Federal Police and Federal Attorney Generals, Charles Stevan da Motta Pessoa and Ramiro Rockenbach da Silva. The Guarani- Kaiow  have been waiting for the report identifying the area since 1998, which was never issued by Funai.

These acts of violence are of grave concern to Cimi, occurring in the very week in which it has been exploring contacts to define the guidelines for a new indianist policy. At this time, when Brazil is in the world spotlight, more specifically Porto Alegre, at the World Social Forum, the indigenous peoples hope to take to the meeting not only their indignation, but also their contribution towards the construction of a new world.

Brasília, Brasilia, January 16, 2003
Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi

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