News-Letter Nr. 552

Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe alderperson is called names and receives death threat

After accusing the mayor of Pau-Brazil, José Augusto dos Santos Filho, of many wrongdoings, the indigenous alderperson for the PT (Workers' Party) Agnaldo Francisco dos Santos was called names and received death threats.

The threats and curses, which were registered in the records of the City Council, came from an alderperson for the PFL (Liberal Front Party), Gildásio Edivirgens, a son-in-law of the mayor, in the two last sessions of the council on February 17 and 24.

Embezzlement of public funds, nepotism, irregular use of funds, and delayed payment of salaries of civil servants are some of the irregularities pointed out by Agnaldo against the mayor. As a result of these accusations, a Special Inquiry Commission was set up in response to petitions signed by the population of the city and other alderpersons for the purpose of punishing the mayor for delaying the payment of salaries to municipal civil servants, for the lack of food in the municipal schools, and for the irregular use of his official car for personal purposes.

In a note to the press, Agnaldo described the situation of the administration of mayor Augusto dos Santos Filho as very delicate and dangerous. "His administration has been marked by truculence, as he considers himself to be above the law; some alderpersons are afraid to take a stand in favor of the law," the alderperson said.

Awá/Guajá land is demarcated at last!

Now that the bounds of their lands have been officially defined, one of the last nomadic peoples of Brazil, the Áwá/Guajá, had their 118,000-hectare territory finally demarcated.

The Awá/Guajá indigenous land, located in the west region of the state of Maranhão, was demarcated after a long period of constant pressure. The pressure applied by local, national, and international nongovernmental organizations and the press played a key role in ensuring this victory.

The "These people want to survive" campaign is an example of this pressure. Launched in August of last year by the Ekos Institute for Equity and Justice of the Combonian missionaries of the northeast and by the Sem Fronteiras magazine, the campaign was designed to draw the attention of the domestic and international community to the situation of these indigenous people through a signed petition sent to the ministry of Justice. The campaign also relied on the participation of the Caros Amigos magazine, of the Indianist Missionary Council, of the Human Rights Committee of the Chamber of Representatives, and of the Justice and Human Rights Social Network.

Brasília, 27 February 2003.
Cimi - Indianist Missionary Council

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