News-Letter Nr. 557

Delays in releasing body cause indignation in the Macuxi People of Roraima

Forty-two days after the State Coroners Institute (IML) in Brasília had published the report that revealed the real causa mortis of the Macuxi Aldo da Silva Mota, his corpse has still not been returned to Roraima.

Aldo's body was sent to the Federal Capital after two reports produced in the State of Roraima declared that the cause of death was "not determined." In Brasília, the IML report said that the victim had been struck by a projectile from a firearm coming from above, and that "at the moment that the lesions were formed, the victim had both of his arms raised." The cause of death was, therefore, "internal bleeding caused by a perforated thorax."

The Justice Department claims that the delays in releasing the body are due to the DNA tests requested by the Prosecuting Counsel of Roraima, on February 28. According to the District Attorney for the State of Roraima, Rômulo Conrado, "As soon as the material for the DNA test has been removed, the body must be released by the judge in charge of the case."

To carry out this test, however, the presence of the body is not necessary, only a few cells are required- these can even be taken from a strand of the dead person's hair. Furthermore, according to the information that has been gathered, this material had already been acquired, which casts doubt on the true reasons for the delay in releasing the body.

As a consequence of these events, the 6th Chamber sent an official letter to the director of the Federal Police, Paulo Lacerda, asking for clarification on the reasons for the delay in releasing the corpse.

Whether it is because of bureaucratic procedures or political interest, as long as the body of Aldo Macuxi remains in the Federal Capital the community and his family will wait indignantly for the time when they can exercise their right to pay their last respects, in accordance with their culture and rituals, to one more indigenous warrior who lost his life fighting for his land. Cimi shares the same feelings of indignation as the indigenous people and hopes that those responsible for the assassination will be caught as quickly as possible.

Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe and Tupinambá recover lands in the south of Bahia

Last Monday, about 15 Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe families recovered an area of land situated in the Serra da Onça mountain range in the municipality of Itajú do Colônia, Bahia. The land is occupied by Marcos Andrade Pinheiro.

According to information given by the leaders of the indigenous people who were involved in the operation, this was in reply to the latest attacks on two Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe on the 29th, in the Mundo Novo region, where two young men, Jurandir Xavier (15) and Antônio Júlio Neto (23) were shot and wounded.

On the night of 1 April, about 60 armed gunmen attacked the area retaken by the Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe after the Federal Police agents, who had been in the area to accompany the removal of some materials belonging to the farm workers, had left. Yesterday morning the families returned, concerned with the absence of the Federal Police and the possibility of further attacks.

On 23 March, 40 families of the Tupinambá people from Belmonte regained possession of three farms between the municipalities of Itapebi and Belmonte, in Bahia. The area recovered was under the control of the farmers Alberto Ceolin and José Maria Coutinho.

According to the Tupinambá, their ancestors lived in these lands until the 1920s when they were expelled. When the trees in the region started to be felled and the wood sold, in the 1970s, the last of the indigenous families were removed.

The Indigenous people sent documents describing the situation to Funai and other authorities, and asked for action to be taken to recognize their ethnicity, to guarantee the physical integrity of the group and to demark the land. "We suffered for many years before we decided to assume our ethnic identity, recover our history and regain our lands, where we used to live and where our ancestors are buried," they justified.

Last year the fight of the Tupinambá caused large repercussions in the region and was one of the priorities of the Fraternity Campaign, which could count on the full support of the diocese of Ilheus and the regional Cimi team.

Bras¡lia, 03 April 2003.
Cimi - Indianist Missionary Council

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