News-Letter Nr. 548

German organisation „Pro REGENWALD" awards prize to indigenous people in Roraima

In recognition of the 30 years of struggle for the demarcation of its traditional territory, during which it faced the violence of farmers, miners, the Brazilian Army, and the prejudice disseminated by politicians of its state, the Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR) was awarded yet another important prize.

The German non-governmental organization called "Pro REGENWALD", headquartered in Munich, awarded the Resistance prize to the entity, which was delivered to chief Jaci Jos‚ de Souza, the coordinator of the CIR, during the closing session of the World Social Forum held in Porto Alegre (state of Rio Grande do Sul) on January 27 at the Catholic University (PUC). According to the representative of Pro Regenwald, László Maráz, the organization has been supporting the indigenous people of Roraima for about 10 years and it launched a campaign over the Internet in support of the Macuxi, Wapixana, Ingaric¢, Taurepang, and Patamona indigenous peoples and of other inhabitants of the Raposa/Serra do Sol indigenous land. "We hope that the president of Brazil will sign the decree that will officially confirm the bounds of the Raposa/Serra do Sol indigenous land shortly. This prize is intended to set an example to all the other indigenous peoples for them not to give up their fight even when things are not going well," he stressed.

The Raposa/Serra do Sol indigenous land is located in the north region of the state of Roraima. It is an area of about 1.7 million hectares where about 14,000 indigenous people live. In the last 30 years, many conflicts took place in it, resulting in the murder of dozens of indigenous leaders. The most recent case was the murder of the Macuxi Aldo da Silva Mota, who was killed on January 2.

"The CIR has never given up its fight under difficult circumstances, and despite the many defeats it suffered it set an example to all oppressed people and has given them enough hope to keep fighting for their rights," László Maráz said. The Tuxaua Jaci Jos‚ de Souza, who lives in the Maturuca village, sees the initiative of the German entity as a major gesture of solidarity. "This is something that fills us with courage, because it shows that there are people in Brazil and in other countries who recognize our rights. This will still be learned by the politicians of Roraima and by all those who believe in the ideas disseminated by the groups that want to take control over our lands," he said.

The ceremony for awarding the prize was attended by 32 indigenous leaders from all parts of Brazil and by people who participated in the workshops organized by the Post-Conference Commission and CIMI - Indianist Missionary Council - at the Third World Social Forum.

Indigenous people get together at national assembly

Between April 6 and 12 of this year, the Post-Conference Commission will be holding a national assembly in Bras¡lia that it expects to be attended by 1,500 representatives of indigenous peoples from all regions of Brazil. The decision to hold the assembly resulted from the discussions held at the Third World Social Forum (FSM), which took place in the period between the 23rd and 27th of this month in the city of Porto Alegre (state of Rio Grande do Sul).

The leaders have already defined the topics that will be addressed at the assembly. The main point to be discussed is the creation of the Council for Indigenous Policy, which will suggest measures to be taken in the health, education, and self-sustainability areas. The agenda of the assembly will include discussions on the Statute of Indigenous Peoples - in relation to which they expect to draft a consensual proposal -, on the creation of an indigenous parliament, and on the recognition of reemerged indigenous peoples.

The conclusions will be submitted to the federal administration to be incorporated in its programs and implemented. The indigenous leaders also want to see immediate and effective actions being taken to put an end to the violence that in the first days of this year alone resulted in the death of three indigenous people.

Brasília, 30 January 2003.
Indianist Missionary Council - Cimi

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