News-Letter Nr. 594

CNBB Asks the Minister of Justice to Take Action on the Conflict in the Marãiwatsedé Indigenous Land

The National Conference of Bishops Of Brazil (CNBB) handed a letter to the Ministry of Justice today (December 18) asking for urgent steps to be taken by the government concerning the conflict that has lasted for more than 30 days between the Xavante people and invaders of the Marãiwatsedé indigenous land in Alto Boa Vista, around 1,000 kilometers from Cuiabá, in the state of Mato Grosso.

Concerned with the serious conflict situation, the presidency of the CNBB is asking the Minister of Justice to take "urgent" steps to guarantee the return of the Xavante to their constitutionally guaranteed lands and to avoid more serious conflict.

In this document, the CNNB says that it is worried about the constant threats received by the indigenous people and Dom Pedro Casaldáliga and asks the government to make sure that "the Federal Police have the necessary manpower in place to ensure the safety of the Xavante people, that all the squatters covered by the land reform program be resettled, and that the safety of Dom Pedro Casaldáliga and representatives of the Prelature Pastoral are guaranteed, as they have received death threats for defending the rights of the Xavante to own the land. Above all, we count on the Brazilian State to work with determination to ensure that the rights provided for in the Constitution to indigenous people are upheld and respected."

The CNBB also restated its willingness to continue to work with the government. This document was drawn up during the final meeting of the year of the CNBB presidency, which draws to a close today.

We Will Continue to Fight

Our newsletters have reached the end of another year with a feeling of mission accomplished and the conviction that there is still a lot to do in this fight to defend the rights of indigenous people. "The World Around Us," the weekly newsletter published by Cimi every Thursday, has finished off this stage of the work as a leader in giving publicity to issues linked to the indigenous people's cause.

We have published more than 100 news items concerning peoples from all over Brazil; here we have spoken out about atrocities and disrespect for the rights of indigenous people, we have issued alerts about the convoluted paths through some political fields, and we have spoken of victories and supported several fights and campaigns of indigenous people in Brazil.

This was a year full of doubts and concern with little clarity in relation to the paths that this government woiuld follow concerning indigenous people, but we have remained strong and committed to the principles that guide us - fighting to defend the rights of indigenous people and supporting them in their struggle.

This is our last newsletter of the year, but we will be back on January 8 bringing information on indigenous people in their quest for the "Land with no Evil."

With the sure feeling that the fight will continue, we wish everybody Seasons Greetings and that next year we can continue along this road together.

Brasília, 18 December 2003
Cimi - Indianist Missionary Council

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