|News-Letter Nr. 585|
The regional Funai (National Indigenous Foundation) administrator in Colíder, Megaron Txukarramãe, has reported that the Kayapó indigenous people have been put under pressure and have suffered death threats to make them accept a reduction of 307,000 hectares in the Baú indigenous land, located near to the city of Novo Progresso in the south of Pará.
The chief of the Baú reservation, Bep-Y, who has led the indigenous people in the negotiations, confirmed the claim made by Megaron. "We have suffered many threats. That is why we prefer to give up ground in the negotiations so that we may live in peace," he said. As an example of this pressure, on September 17 around 1000 farmers occupied the Santarém-Cuiabá Highway to protest against the demarcation of the indigenous people's land. Demonstrators turned up at the protest armed and saying that they were ready to use force to throw the Kayapó off their land. Some days after the protest, a bridge on the road from Baú to Novo Progresso was set on fire.
The Minister of Justice, through his special advisor for indigenous affairs, Cláudio Beirão, claims not to know anything about any threats made against the Kayapó. The president of Funai, Márcio Gomes, could not be found to comment on this issue. His advisor, Roberto Lustosa, said that he knew nothing of the threats.
Meanwhile, Megaron, who accompanied the negotiations, says he has alerted Funai about the tense situation, "as well as the press (which reported the fact), I have also come to Brasília and told the President of Funai about the threats," said the administrator of the official indigenous people's organization.
The deputy Zé Geraldo of the Workers´ Party (PT-PA), who acted as intermediary on the side of the farmers in the talks with the Ministry of Justice and Funai, considers the negotiations concerning the Baú land as positive, and they could even be able to be used as a peaceful template for speeding up other demarcation processes in areas where there are still conflicts. "There is such a large wave of invasions taking place in that region, that Incra and Ibama are completely losing control. This is why I believe that negotiations of this type could be the solution," the deputy stated.
At this moment, the 6th Coordination and Review Chamber - Indigenous Communities and Minorities - of the Federal Public Prosecution Office is preparing a lawsuit to repeal the government order that reduces the area of the indigenous land. In the opinion of Ella Wiecko, public prosecutor at the 6th Chamber, this deal must be considered null and void as it was imposed by one of the parties, "what took place was not a negotiation, as the proposal was imposed on the indigenous people."
Through a public announcement, the Indigenist Missionary Council strongly condemns the negotiating of indigenous lands (see the announcement on the Cimi website).
Last Tuesday (October 14) the House of Deputies' Human Rights Caravan was in the Caramuru-Catarina-Paraguassu area belonging to the Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe indigenous people, in the municipality of Pau Brasil, around 560 kilometers from Salvador. The aim of the visit was to see in loco the constantly publicized violent situation that confronts the Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe people in their fight to regain their territory.
The Caravan visited the Mundo Novo region, where they could see the wretched conditions suffered by several indigenous families who have been living under plastic sheets since they were violently thrown off their lands, when their houses were destroyed and burnt by gunmen and farmers on July 12.
At 06:00 p.m. the entourage returned to the city, where a public meeting was held in the square in front of the Municipal Chamber. During the public meeting the chiefs Gerson Melo, Marilene and Nailton Muniz spoke of the violence that the Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe people have been suffering over recent years. They spoke of the disrespect, prejudice, persecution, and death of their leaders. A report and a large dossier describing their situation were handed to the deputies in the Caravan.
Haroldo Heleno from the Indianist Missionary Council spoke in the name of the support groups, emphasizing that peace is the fruit of justice. "There will be no peace for the Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe whilst they are not returned to their lands. The indigenous people want no more than their land back", he said.
At the end of the meeting, the Caravan presented some guiding proposals. The deputies undertook to present a report of the visit to the Minister Nelson Jobim and the other ministers of the Federal Supreme Court, requesting urgency in judgment of the Annulment Suit; setting up a meeting with the National Public Security Department to ask for steps to be taken to bring an end to the violent situation which is, nowadays, to be found in the municipality of Pau Brasil, as well as meeting the president of Funai, in an attempt to speed up the actions that can answer the demands made by the indigenous communities during the meeting. The Commission pledged to keep a close watch on any events that may once again harm the indigenous communities.
Several leaders accompanied the Caravan's visit: the Pataxó from the far south, the Tupinambá from Olivença and Belmonte, as well as institutions that support the indigenous peoples' cause and state deputies.
The Caravan has already visited the Xavante people in Mato Grosso, the Cinta Larga people in Rondônia; and the Macuxi people in the Raposa/Serra do Sol region of Roraima. Yesterday and today, the Caravan visited the Xukuru people, in Pernambuco, and tomorrow it will visit the Kaingang and Guarani. people, in Santa Catarina.
Brasília, October 16 2003.
Cimi - Indianist Missionary Council
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