News-Letter Nr. 571

Resisting indigenous people deliver document to representatives of the government

A committee made up of seven indigenous leaders from peoples from all parts of the country is in Brasília to deliver the final document from the 1st National Meeting of People Fighting for Ethnic and Territorial Recognition to the government representatives responsible for indigenous issues. This meeting took place from 15 - 20 May in Olinda, state of Pernambuco, and was attended by 90 indigenous leaders from 47 peoples. "We have neither been resurrected, nor have we just appeared, we are survivors" was the final slogan of the meeting whose objectives were to share information on the difficulties faced by indigenous peoples, to identify common challenges and to draw up a list of demands at the national level so as to favor coordinated actions.

The committee will have meetings with representatives from the Ministry of Justice, the 6th Chamber of the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office, the Minister for Education, Cristovam Buarque, the coordinator of Funasa and the President of Funai, Eduardo Almeida. In the document, the leaders demand: demarcation, legalization and withdrawal of invaders from all the indigenous lands, as well as guarantees that they will be watched over and safeguarded; a review of the decrees that set up Conservation Units in indigenous or claimed areas; appreciation and cultivation of indigenous people's history and traditions to keep them alive through the introduction of differentiated policies; the inclusion of the remaining people in differentiated health care and education programs and; training indigenous health care professionals and indigenous teachers so that they can work within their areas.

At today's meeting with the Minister for Education, the leaders presented demands, at the national level, for the education of indigenous people. In the document, handed to the Minister, Cristovam Buarque, the peoples voiced their worries concerning the path that educational policy in Brazil is following and asked for the different areas of MEC to work together on this issue. "It is urgent that the different departments in MEC work together when dealing with the subject of education of the indigenous peoples. Nowadays, this subject is isolated and kept separate from the other areas. Consequently, the other areas are unaware of and do not understand the special nature and differentiation as an acquired right, as is the case of the Fundescola program. It is necessary for the education of indigenous people to have its own lines of credit, governed according to the real conditions of the indigenous people in Brazil and it should not be subjected to the bureaucracy that has done them so much damage, as is the case with FUNDEF. There must be greater surveillance of the actions of the states to check that the funds released by MEC are really invested in school education for indigenous people," the document emphasizes.

CIMI mourns the death of Xavante

The Indianist Missionary Council mourns the death of Francisco Xavante, which occurred on 7 July, in a hostel in the W3 Sul area of Brasília. Francisco was suffocated by smoke as a consequence of a fire in the basement of the hostel where he was sleeping. The police are still investigating the cause of the fire. This event took place near to the place where the Pataxó, Galdino, was burnt to death in 1997.

According to a memorandum issued by Funai, as of 13 June, these hostels were no longer authorized to receive indigenous people, because from that date on, any indigenous people in transit would stay at the Orlando Villas Boas Social and Cultural Center in Sobradinho.

Cimi stands alongside the Xavante people and asks for this case to be responsibly investigated so that the causes of the fire can be revealed.

For, Egon Heck, Executive Secretary of Cimi, this case shows how the indigenous policies and the responsible organizations of the government have continuously failed in recent years.

Brasília, 10 July 2003.
Cimi - Indianist Missionary Council

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