|News-Letter Nr. 560|
Around 13 ethnic groups took part in a solemn session held in honor of indigenous people in the Chamber of Deputies today. The session was proposed by the deputies, Perpétua Almeida (PC do B-AC), Eduardo Valverde (PT-RO) and Janete Capiberibe (PSB- AP). Representatives of the Coordinating Body of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon - COAIB, The Association of Indigenous Peoples and Organizations of the Northeast, Minas Gerais and Esp¡rito Santo - APOINME, the Post-Conference 2000 Indigenous Commission and Cimi were involved. Eduardo Almeida, President of Funai, and Antonio Apurinã, substitute for Senator Marina Silva were also present.
"We, in this house, have begun to pay back the enormous debt that the Brazilian State owes to its indigenous peoples", was how deputy Perpétua Almeida began her speech. She emphasized the importance of doing a serious job in favor of indigenous people's rights, and one that does not end up split along party lines. She also spoke about the more than 100 projects dealing with indigenous people's issues that are currently making their way through the National Congress, including the Indigenous People's Statute, "The Indigenous People's Statute, which is currently being analyzed by the House of Deputies is so outdated that it needs to be brought up-to-date before it has even been approved. After it has been debated and approved, it needs to be sanctioned by President Lula, as an act that pays back the debt to the indigenous people," she stressed.
Deputy Luiz Eduardo Greenhalgh (PT-SP), president of the Federal Chamber's Constitution, Justice and Citizenship Committee, spoke on behalf of the representatives of the Labor Party (PT). He referred to his party's long legal battles in favor of indigenous people, and remembered cases such as that of the indigenous person Galdino, who was assassinated in Bras¡lia in 1997. According to Luiz Eduardo, "indigenous people are the target of political persecution", and reminded the government that "it is time for hope to conquer fear in the indigenous nations too". Luiz Eduardo, in the name of the representatives from his party, reiterated the promise made to the indigenous people by all the deputies of his party. "I am reaffirming our promise to fight this battle to the end", he concluded.
Deputy Chico Alencar (PT-RJ) proposed that on 1 May, when President Lula takes part in the CNBB assembly, the homologation of the indigenous lands in Roraima, especially the Raposa/Serra do Sol lands would be announced. The deputy remembered the "We Exist" campaign set up in the State of Roraima, which brings together workers from the cities, the countryside and the indigenous people. This will be the first time that a President of the Republic takes part in the CNBB assembly.
In the midst of all the breaches of protocol and the speeches from different representatives of various parties, the hope that the proposals of the parliamentarians would really come to pass and that they were not only proclamations in celebrations of Indigenous People's Day, but really represented the interest to fight for the rights of the indigenous people could be seen in the eyes if the indigenous peoples leaders.
After the solemn session, a public act to celebrate the setting up of a parliamentary front in defense of indigenous peoples rights took place in the so-called Black Hall of the Chamber. This front, which is made up of about 55 deputies, aims to link together and bring to fruition issues dealing with indigenous people that are going through Congress.
Deputy Edson Duarte (PV-BA) said that the front has to be above any political bias. For Antonio Apurinã, the setting up of this front is an important moment for the National Congress, "2003 is the year in which an alliance was set up with the aim of transforming the rights of the indigenous people into reality. Let's all work together," he emphasized.
The APOINME representative, Agamenon Geripankó, hopes that the Parliamentary Front really becomes a discussion channel for parliamentarians and the indigenous people and does not remain a symbolic act in celebration of Indigenous People's Day, but that it really works. Agamenon suggested that the Front meets with representatives of the indigenous people's movement to draw up a list of activities.
Bras¡lia, 24 April 2003.
Cimi - Indianist Missionary Council
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