News-Letter Nr. 593

Meeting Between the Marãiwatsedé and the Acting President, José Alencar, Was a Failure

The mobilization carried out by the government to try and solve the question of the Xavante from the Marãiwatsedé indigenous land was a failure. Last Tuesday (December 9) the acting president of the Republic, José Alencar, and representatives from Funai, the National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform (Incra), the Ministry of Land Reform, the Ministry of Justice and the Public Prosecutor's Office met with the Governor of Mato Grosso, Blairo Maggi, squatters and their lawyers. Only the protagonists of the whole affair - the Xavante - were not present.

The aim of the meeting was to find a peaceful solution to ensure the return of the Xavante to their land and the removal of squatters from it. Without an agreement, the situation remains unchanged, the indigenous people are camped on one side of the highway demanding the return of the land that was promised to them, and the squatters, who through political maneuvers continue fighting against the Xavante, are on the other side.

The proposal made to the invaders by the acting president, José Alencar, according to which the indigenous people would have access to part of the land, was not accepted. Edson Beiriz, Funai administrator who has been with the Xavante since the start of the mobilization, said he was disappointed with the outcome of the meeting. "I had expected great things from this meeting, and it was a tremendous failure."

According to the local press, José Alencar blamed the failure of the negotiations on the non-participation of the indigenous people. Roberto Lustosa, leader of the Funai delegation, said that the Xavante had not taken part in the meeting because the organization did not have transport to take them to Cuiabá and that there had not been enough time. "We did not have any transport to bring them. Coming by land they would not have arrived in time."

Cezar Augusto, Funai attorney, blamed the failure on "the total intransigence of the squatters in discussing the two proposals, both Funai's and the one the president took." According to him, if the indigenous people had been there, "they would have been another group to leave the meeting frustrated."

The imminence of a more serious conflict in Alto Boa Vista, around 1,000 kilometers from Cuiabá, has lasted for around 30 days. The city has been mobilized against the Xavante by farmers and politicians who are interested in the 168,000 hectares of land that have been homologated and registered for the Xavante to use.

A legal decision is now awaited to guarantee the return of the indigenous people to part of the land by the time the case is judged, hopefully by February. Last week the Public Prosecutor's Office and Funai launched an appeal for the indigenous people to be able to return to an area of 2,000 hectares. The court has still not come to a decision. "The indigenous people are in the area, they are not going to back off. We will continue with our preparations," Beiriz guaranteed.

Cimi Resists Current School Education Model for Indigenous People

From December 6 to 10, Cimi, through its National Education Council (ANE), which met in Luziânia - GO, carried out an analysis on "Education of Indigenous People: Between the Law and Reality." Several missionaries from CIMI took part in the meeting which discussed the situation of the schooling of indigenous people as a policy developed by the Brazilian State together with indigenous peoples.

The diagnosis of ANE showed "a chaotic array of actions which are, on the one hand, fragmented and, on the other, verticalized."

The non-regulation of Indigenous People's Schools as laid down in the National Education Council (CEB / CNE) Resolution 03/99, the situation of indigenous teachers whose profession is not recognized, the disrespect for the legal requirement of having school buildings built from the cultural perspective of indigenous people, the non-existence of working control mechanisms which guarantee the effective participation of the indigenous people in discussions about the their education and the lack of resources specifically intended for the schooling of indigenous people were analyzed and questioned.

Faced with this situation, ANE considered the public administration model of the Brazilian State to be of no use for meeting the schooling needs of indigenous people in Brazil. In the final report of the meeting, ANE proposed "developing a special educational system which respects the territorial, linguistic, and pedagogical diversity of the peoples, their ways of organizing, systematizing, and recording knowledge, and also their administrative rules and guidelines." According to the Council "only the existence of a special system dealing with indigenous people's schooling from basic right up to higher education can effectively guarantee the principles of specificity, differentiation and autonomy, replacing the colonialist, homogenizing school model."

For ANE: "repaying the social debt to the indigenous people is rediscovering our own history and this government has the unique opportunity of not repeating the mistakes made in the not-too-distant past."

Brasília, 11 December 2003
Cimi - Indianist Missionary Council

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