News-Letter Nr. 578

Raposa/Serra do Sol: Federal justice orders indigenous people to be removed from the Kaxirimã settlement

As if the lack of a definition concerning the homologation of the Raposa/Serra do Sol indigenous lands in Roraima, and all the political bargaining against the indigenous people in this state were not enough, the Substitute Federal Judge, Helder Girão Barreto, instructed a court order determining that the indigenous people be removed from the Kaxirimã settlement in the Raposa/Serra do Sol indigenous lands, to be carried out and the lands returned to the illegal landowner Manoel Rufino. The decision was signed on the 18th and published on 23 August 2003.

The judge decreed that the office of the 2nd Jurisdiction of the Federal Justice Department should certify that the decision was carried out, and if not, "I declare that the mandate on page 154 should be detached and carried out by two (02) Officers of the Justice Department, and I authorize the use of the Federal Police and Military Police", he said. The magistrate states that the Officers of the Justice Department "must catch any wrongdoers in the act, especially if they are public service workers".

Kaxirimã is situated five kilometers from Uiramutã inside the Raposa/Serra do Sol lands. It is an area where the Brazilian Army and the City Hall of the municipality of the same name both claim part of the ancestral settlement of the Makuxi ethnic group. The objective is to favor the presence of non-indigenous people.

The area was retaken by the indigenous people in January 2002, two decades after the illegal landowner Manoel Rufino had taken control of the area. At that time, the community gave out information about the existence of the graves, where the old inhabitants of the settlement are buried.

The illegal landowner Manoel Rufino argues in his lawsuit that he lives in the area and lives on what he gets from planting sugar cane and producing blocks of raw brown sugar on the farm. The indigenous leaders guarantee that he has produced nothing in the region since the start of the 1990s and have claimed the right to immemorial possession of the Raposa/Serra do Sol lands, demarcated since 1998, by government order No. 820 issued by the Justice Department.

The Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR), hopes that there are no conflicts in the region or excesses in the Federal and Military Police actions, and is campaigning for the removal of all invaders from the Raposa/Serra do Sol lands. Up to the end of the afternoon on Tuesday (26/8), the Justice Department Officials had not arrived at the location.

Indigenous leaders of 57 communities in Raposa/Serra do Sol, have gathered together in the Kaxirimã settlement to protest against the justice department's decision. In an open letter to the authorities, they communicate that they do not intend to leave the settlement: "We live here, we will die here", is the title of the document.

The govenor of Santa Catarina meets the minister of justice to discuss the declaratory government order about the La Klaño indigenous land

Yesterday, the governor of Santa Catarina, Luiz Henrique da Silveira, (PMDB-SC), and the mayors of Itaiópolis, Vitor Meireles, Doutor Pedrinho and José Boiteux, met Márcio Thomaz Bastos, the Minister of Justice, to discuss the declaratory government order about the La Klaño indigenous land, belonging to the Xokleng people, signed by the minister on the 13th of this month.

The entourage from the state of Santa Catarina asked for a mixed committee to be formed, with the participation of the federal and state governments, city halls, indigenous people and agriculturists, to search for alternatives. During the meeting, Bastos said that he understands that there is conflict in the region but that he will "bear both sides in mind": both the indigenous people and the agriculturists. The minister said he would study the situation and in 10 days time would talk to the governor and the mayors once again.

The La Klaño indigenous land area has been altered from 14 to 37 thousand hectares of land, which is meant for more than 2 thousand Xokleng. The Government of the state of Santa Catarina has, over the last few days, alleged that the land area has increased, which is not true. The government order redresses a historical mistake. The land has not increased. It has, instead, been returned to the indigenous people. In 1915 the area was set aside for the community, and, from 1926 has been reduced, until only 14 thousand hectares were left. After years of campaigning, the Xokleng have managed to get their land back. In 1998, Funai began a study to examine the lands stolen in the past. Since May 2000, the process has been in the Ministry of Justice, waiting for the government order to be published.

As well as the governor and the mayors, several federal and state deputies took part in the meeting, including Pedro Baldissera (PT-SC) and the Senator Ideli Salvatti (PT-SC).

Brasília, 28 August 2003.
Cimi - Indianist Missionary Council

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