News-Letter Nr. 589

Another Indigenous Person is Killed in Rio Grande do Sul

Another indigenous person was brutally killed. With this one, 24 indigenous people were killed this year. In the states of Brazil's South Region alone there were five murders. Last Saturday (the 8th), Geam Amantino Kaingang, who lived in the Nonoai indigenous land in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, was cruelly killed.

The 22 years old Kaingang youth was tortured, raped and finally killed Saturday night in the city of Nonoai (state of Rio Grande do Sul). Geam's body was left under a tree with vivid bruises in the head and body. In addition to having been raped, he had his eyes poked out and cuts in the hands and legs. He was buried on Sunday (the 9th) amidst protests of his outraged community.

As a deaf-mute, Geam was a defenseless person who had no enemies. According to Sadi de Souza, his cousin, "he got along with everybody in the region," he said. According to the chief of the Nonoai indigenous land, José Lopez do Nascimento, indigenous people are under constant threats in the region and they are advised not to leave their villages alone.

According to the civil police, Luciano Sebastião Weber confessed to the murder of Geam on Wednesday (the 12th). In his deposition, Weber said that he and Geam were drunk and had a fight, during which he hurled a stone at his head. However, Cimi believes that the case should be investigated in greater detail, since the alleged killer has mental problems. According to the local authorities and public opinion, this is a very comfortable solution, as it simplifies and even justifies the solution of an emblematic case. It is quite convenient to attribute a hideous crime to a mentally handicapped individual in a region where racism, discrimination and intolerance in relation to indigenous people are very strong.

Prejudice against indigenous people is intense throughout the region, particularly in locations where lands are in the process of being demarcated. The Nonoai indigenous land covers 39,600 hectares and comprises the municipalities of Nonoai, Gramado dos Loreiros, Rio dos Índios, Rodeio Bonito and Planalto. A small part of this area is occupied by small farmers and another part was invaded by the mayor of Nonoai, Ademar Dall'Astra.

President of Funai Declares that the Government will Confirm the Bounds of the Raposa/Serra do Sol Area as a Continuous Area

In a public hearing granted yesterday (the 12th) by the Agriculture and Rural Policy Committee of the Chamber of Representatives to deal with land ownership issues and the demarcation of indigenous lands in the state of Roraima, the president of Funai, Mércio Pereira Gomes, declared that the government will confirm the bounds of the Raposa/Serra do Sol land as a continuous area.

"I know that the President of the Republic is determined to confirm the bounds of the indigenous land as proposed," Mércio said in response to a question about the position of the government in relation to the official confirmation of the bounds of the Raposa/Serra do Sol indigenous land. The president also said that in relation to the deadlock over how the decree will be signed, caused by a conflict between the position of the state government, which wants the matter to be reviewed with the aim of eliminating villages referred to as municipalities and rice plantations from the area to be demarcated, and the position of the indigenous people, who want the decree to be signed as indicated in Administrative Ruling 820/98, namely, as a continuous 1.6 million-hectare area, the agency has made a decision: "It is not just a matter of what the indigenous people want, but also of what Funai has done and proposed already: the demarcation and the project for confirming the bounds of the whole area," he explained.

The meeting was attended by the governor of Roraima, Flamarion Portela (Workers' Party - state of Roraima), representative of the state and representatives of rural workers' organizations. During the hearing, Flamarion provided an account of the land ownership situation in the state and said that "if the state doesn't foster the growth of the agricultural production it is doomed to fail." The governor once again used the discourse that the indigenous lands of Roraima and their expansion are to be blamed for the lack of economic growth in the state.

In relation to the Raposa/Serra do Sol area, Portela said he is confident that the Interministerial Group set up by the federal administration will make an appropriate decision: "I am my placing all my bets on the decision of the commission." The commission is supposed to issue an opinion on the land issue in the state and particularly on the official confirmation of the bounds of the Raposa/Serra do Sol area by the end of the month. Today, the governor is being heard by the group.

Brasília, 13 November 2003
Cimi - Indianist Missionary Council

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