News-Letter Nr. 577

Raposa/Serra do Sol: Contradictions in the labor party camp

According to a newsletter published yesterday by the Council for the Indigenous People of Roraima (CIR), the senator Sibá Machado (PT-AC), who visited this organization on the 18th of this month, guaranteed that Flamarion Portela, the State Governor, would no longer neither oppose the homologation of the Raposa/Serra do Sol indigenous land as an unbroken area, nor advocate dividing the lands up.

In this newsletter, the CIR pointed out that the senator had explained that the Federal Government had "all kinds of friends", which implied that care was necessary when decisions were taken. "When the governor joined the party, for example, we assumed that he would adopt the same position as other labor party members", Sibá confirmed. As for the homologation, the senator said that "what he [the governor] wants is another area to carry out a new administration. At no time, will the Governor get involved in the issue of reducing your area. I have just come out of a meeting with him, where this was made very clear", he guaranteed.

Today, the press in Roraima published the news that Pablo Sérgio, the Labor Party Secretary for Communications, had confirmed that these declarations were not true, "At no time did senator Sibá Machado speak in the name of the governor" and said that during the meeting, "the senator and the governor had discussed problems concerned with national and regional policies". The press also published that the senator had denied the assertions made by the CIR, saying that he had been "surprised and embarrassed by the distortions made to his speech" and was going to "send a letter stating his real position on this issue".

According to the CIR, the information is true. Around 30 indigenous leaders and organizations from the state witnessed the meeting of the 18th, and the discussion was recorded.

Senator Sibá Machado has today sent a document to Pablo Sérgio, which says that the content of the bulletin does not accurately reflect the opinions and position that he expressed during the meeting held on the 18th. According to the senator, the purpose of his trip to Roraima was to help everyone and that he neither spoke in the governor's name nor gave the governor's opinions on the demarcation of indigenous lands in the state. "I reaffirm that in order to find solutions to issues concerning development or other projects, we must all follow the path of legality and understanding."

At the end, Sibá Machado reaffirmed his pledge to collaborate in finding a solution to the problems of the state but that for this "it will be necessary for everyone involved to be willing to face them not as a war but as a team effort."

As far as Cimi is concerned, this is a further demonstration of the government's failure in handling its policy on indigenous people.

Brazilian Human Rights Reporters visit the Xukuru People

This morning, Brazilian human rights reporters visited the indigenous Xukuru people, in Pesqueira, Pernambuco, to investigate human rights violations concerning accommodation, land, food, water and the environment according to allegations made by civilian authorities in Pernambuco.

The reporters Flávio Luiz Schieck Valente, Jean-Pierre Leroy and Nelson Saule Júnior are members of the Reporters for Economic, Cultural and Social Human Rights, a National Project organized by the DHESC Brazil Program. The project is based on the monitoring of human rights laid down in international treaties that countries then ratify. The aim is to contribute towards the adoption, in Brazil, of a standard which offers full respect for human rights, considering the rights to food, water and rural land, suitable accommodation, education, health, work and the environment, for which Brazilian reporters have been appointed.

The project is supported by the Special Human Rights Secretariat of the Ministry of Justice, the United Nations Volunteers Program (UNV) and the Federal Prosecutor for Citizen's Rights. The Reporters have already presented a preliminary report of their activities to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, which took place in Geneva, in April, and to Brazilian society, first during the VIII National Human Rights Conference, held in June in Brasília, and then in São Paulo, in July.

The reporters will also investigate the conflict for the land in the municipality of Tracunhaém, the Engenho do Prado farm; the situation of the landfills in the municipality of Arcoverde and in the Metropolitan Region of Recife and urban occupations in the municipality.

Meetings and discussions with community leaders that work in these areas will be held during these visits.

Brasília, 21 August 2003.
Cimi - Indianist Missionary Council

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