News-Letter Nr. 575

National Seminar: Brazilian problems and prospects (land, environment, economy and politics)

Last Tuesday (the 5th), the National Seminar: Brazilian Problems and Prospects was held at the auditorium of the Office of the Attorney General. The seminar was sponsored by the Indianist Missionary Council (Cimi) on the occasion of the 15th General Assembly of the entity, along with the National Forum for Land Reform and Justice in Rural Areas. "We will fight for the people's government of Lula to include in its political agenda, as core elements, the fight against violence in rural areas and actions to pay off the debt toward those who have always suffered aggression and have been violated, usurped and expropriated by the National State", the final document of the seminar says.

The meeting was aimed at reviewing and proposing urgent actions to the government in relation to the land reform and to the official recognition of indigenous lands and of lands occupied by descendants of runaway slaves, and at reviewing the social, political and economic context of the country in the first seven months of the Lula administration. "Concerned with the situation facing indigenous peoples, landless rural workers, small farmers engaged in household agriculture schemes, descendants of runaway slaves and other individuals in rural areas, we are hereby proposing measures for the Brazilian government and society to deal with the serious problems affecting these populations", the final document concludes.

During the seminar, representatives of the Landless Movement, of the Land Pastoral Commission and of Cimi spoke about the acts of violence suffered by rural workers and indigenous people, pointing out that about 28 rural workers and 18 indigenous people were murdered this year alone. They also demanded that the decree related to ILO's Convention 169, the text of which was approved by the Federal Senate in June 2002, be signed.

The need to build alliances more clearly and to enhance the capacity of popular movements to make sound political analyses and to carry out appropriate mobilization and intervention actions was considered a primordial task at this new moment.

The organizations attending the seminar expressed their concerns and listed a series of proposals and claims, among which the following ones: That during the term of the present federal administration indigenous lands be fully demarcated, according to the bounds accepted by the indigenous peoples or communities that have been occupying them traditionally, as provided for in the Federal Constitution. And that full rights be ensured to indigenous communities over lands traditionally occupied by them, which have been affected by serious and protracted conflicts, such as the following lands: Raposa/Serra do Sol (state of Roraima), Caramuru Catarina Paraguay (state of Bahia), Patax¢ do Monte Pascoal (state of Bahia), Cerro Marangatu (state of Mato Grosso do Sul), Guarani do Ara‡a'¡ (state of Santa Catarina), Xokleng La Kla¤o (state of Santa Catarina), Toldo Imbu Kaingang (state of Santa Catarina), Alto Rio Guam (state of Par ), Xukuru (state of Pernambuco), Guaj (state of MaranhÆo) and Roosevelt (states of Rond"nia/Mato Grosso); The creation of a national program to issue title deeds for lands occupied by descendants of runaway slaves and of a program to promote the sustainable development of communities of descendants of runaway slaves.

The Attorney General, Cl udio Fonteles, opened the meeting. The seminar was attended by professor Chico de Oliveira, a renowned social scientist, and by attorneys of 6th Review Chamber of the Federal Prosecution Service. About 130 CIMI missionaries, indigenous leaders and representatives of other sectors of the popular movement also attended the seminar.

15th general assembly of CIMI

The Challenges facing Cimi in the Present Political Scenario constituted the topic of the 15th General Assembly of the Indianist Missionary Council, which was held on August 4-8. The purpose of the assembly was to review the political, economic and social conjuncture of the country, the role played by Cimi in this context, propose actions to overcome challenges and elect the new director of the entity. About 130 missionaries from all over the country participated in the preparation of the actions that will guide the work of the entity in the new political and social scenario facing the country The assembly was also attended by indigenous leaders of various peoples.

Given the active participation of indigenous peoples and the many situations involved, the following actions were defined: strategic investments in training and informing indigenous communities; joint preparation with indigenous communities of specific materials of their own to be used as working instruments at local, regional and national level; detailed discussions in the communities on the indigenous policy aiming at developing more daring proposals based on the principles of autonomy and integrality of the actions; strengthening of the mystique, ecclesiasticism, and inter-religious and ecumenical dialogue and preparation of a global plan defining the nature and role of Cimi, its objectives, action lines, goals, assumptions, methodology, and evaluation mechanisms as benchmarks for the missionary activities of the entity in its work with indigenous peoples and the non-indigenous society.

The new president of the entity was elected and its new bylaws approved at the assembly. Dom Franco Masserdotti was reelected president, Saulo Feitosa was elected vice president, and Éden Magalhães was elected executive secretary.

Brasília, 07 August 2003.
Cimi - Indianist Missionary Council

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