News-Letter Nr. 547

WSF: Indigenous groups denounce acts of violence and request audience before Lula

Over 60 indigenous leaders from Brazil and Mexico are preparing for the events of the III World Social Forum that begins this Thursday afternoon, 01/23, in the city of Porto Alegre. They have been gathered since the beginning of this week at the Casa de Retiro Belém do Horto, located in the southern section of town.

The initial themes debated in preparation for the III WSF were the acts of violence and lack of definition regarding indigenist policy by Lula's government. Indigenous leaders highlighted that, besides the murders of the Macuxi Aldo da Silva Mota (RR), of Guarani-Kaiowá Marcos Verón (MS) and Kaingang Leopoldo Crespo (RS), the Pataxó and Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe communities of Bahia in the regions of Monte Pascoal and southern Bahia, respectively, are under continuous threat, where ranchers attempt to force indigenous peoples off lands retaken over the last three years.

Tomorrow, the Social Forum awaits the arrival of the President of the Republic, Luís Inácio Lula da Silva. Representatives of the indigenous delegation coordinated by the Post-Conference Commission desire a meeting with the President. If it is not possible during his stay at the event, they will try to schedule a meeting at Planalto Palace, in Brasilia, for the 29th of this month, when caravans representing the WSF from different states of Brazil with be passing through the federal capital.

The expectation of the indigenous leaders is to request that president Lula act more expeditiously in bringing to justice the murderers of the three tribesmen as well as place greater urgency in defining indigenist policy. Cimi - the Indigenist Missionary Council, has already handed over to the Minister of Justice, Márcio Thomaz Bastos, a proposal for a Provisional Measure that would set up an Indigenist Policy Council, for the purpose of proposing guidelines for policies related to indigenous populations and for coordinating activities conducted by different ministries responsible for addressing the affairs of indigenous peoples.

Today, indigenous delegates will participate in the opening session of the III World Social Forum, which shall begin with a march from the Porto Alegre City Hall to the banks of the Guaiba river, to an area Workshops will begin tomorrow morning, discussing "Indigenous Peoples. Land, Indigenous Territory and Autonomy", "Indigenous Resistance and Autonomy in Brazilian History" and "Resurrected Peoples. the Mobilization of Indigenous Groups and Peasants in Brazil and the Continent". On the afternoon of the 26th, the campaign, "We Exist" will be launched at the CUT Portal, promoted by grassroots organizations and the Catholic Church in the state of Roraima.

Indigenous peoples from Mexico and Brazil publish text on common problems

During the preparatory meetings prior to the III World Social Forum, representatives from 32 indigenous peoples in Brazil and Mexico drew up a document highlighting problems faced in common, seeking to straiten ties amongst indigenous peoples throughout the continent.

Among the problems raised in the document. The indigenous peoples consider, "indispensable that governments formulate and conduct policies to fight all types of discrimination and prejudice, so that indigenous peoples from all countries may be respected and can live in dignity, contributing through their histories and cultures to the wellbeing of all Mankind"."

In another point in the document, indigenous representatives denounce the expansion of US domination over other peoples, "The indigenous peoples, just as other nations, will once more become victims of genocidal imperialism." Therefore, we repudiate the aggressive policy of the United States against the peoples of Iraq and other nations".

Besides highlighting their problems, the indigenous groups took the opportunity to restate the commitments made at the II World Social Forum, held last year.

Brasília, 23 January 2003.
Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi

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