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Date: Tue, 28 Apr 98 17:35:11 CDT
From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: Anti-Indigenous Agreement Forced Through In Brazil
Article: 33496
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.2581.19980430121849@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

/** headlines: 125.0 **/
** Topic: Anti-Indigenous Agreement Forced Through In Brazil **
** Written 6:54 PM Apr 27, 1998 by econet in cdp:headlines **
/* Written 5:57 PM Apr 23, 1998 by saiic@igc.org in saiic.indio */
/* ---------- Brazil/Anti-Indigenous Agreement Se ---------- */

Anti-Indigenous agreement seals comitment of the government with Aracruz Cellulose S/A

Cimi, Brazilia-DF, 20 April 1998

During its 25 years of uncompromising support to the cause of Indigenous Peoples, CIMI thought that it had already seen, mainly during military dictatorship, all kinds of violence against these Peoples. This happens to be a merely deception.

On the 18th of March 1998 the Brazilian Government unleashed a military operation to put an end to the struggle of the Tupinikim and Guarani Indians for the demarcation of their lands and to oblige them to accept the impositions of the multinational Aracruz Celulose. The roads which give access to the indigenous villages were occupied by a heavily armed federal police force in order to impede that the Indians would continue to receive support and solidarity in the self-demarcation of their lands. Trade union leaders from CUT (Central Unico dos Trabalhadores - Central Workers Union) were arrested, interrogated and treated like criminals for having shown solidarity with the Indians. Representatives of the MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Terra - Movement of Workers without Land) were removed by force from the village of Pau Brasil in the early morning and transported in vehicles lent by Aracruz Celulose. The dutch missionary Winfried Overbeek was arbitrarely arrested by the Federal Police and threathened to be expelled from the country.

During the negotiation period in Brasilia, the Indigenous leaders of the Executive Commission of the Tupinikim and Guarani were maintained isolated and pressured to submit themselves to the decision of the Federal Government to reduce their traditionally occupied lands to 2,571 ha (decrees nr. 193 and 195/98 from the ex-Minister of Justice Iris Resende), in convenience with Aracruz Celulose.

This conduct of the Government, which aimed to intimidate the Indians and to stop them from fully demarcating their lands, was 'crowned' with an outcome maybe even more spurious. On the 2nd of March the Tupinikim and Guarani leaders signed an agreement called 'Term of Adjustment of Conduct' (Termo de Ajustamento de Conduta), valid for a period of 20 years. In the Term the Indians 'allow' to EXCHANGE THE LIMITS OF THEIR TRADITIONALLY OCCUPIED LANDS FOR MONEY AND ASSISTANCE PROJECTS BEING PROVIDED BY ARACRUZ CELULOSE. The Term was also signed by the President of FUNAI (Fundacao Nacional do Indio - National Indian Foundation), Sulivan Silvestre Oliveira, and by representatives of the Federal Public Prosecution Service (which has as a constitutional duty to defend rights and interests of Indigenous Peoples).

The presence of the federal police force was maintained until the 8th of April in order to guarantee that the agreement signed in Brasilia would get the approval of the indigenous communities. By means of the decree 268/98 of the President of FUNAI, the Indians are still forbidden to receive in their own lands the organisations which support their struggle, organisations of the civil society which for many years are giving them support and are showing solidarity.

In the face of the seriousness of the exposed situation, CIMI comes to declare that it:

1. considers the 'agreement' SCANDALOUS and IMMORAL. It was obtained by means which offend seriously the fundamental rights and liberties guaranteed in the Federal Constitution valid for any individual - including the Indians - . Also, it is extremely harmful to the rights and interests of the mentioned indigenous communities and to their physical and socio-cultural integrity. Finally, it is flagrantly UNCONSTITUTIONAL by violating Art. 231, par. 4, of the same Constitution which orders that indigenous lands are 'NOT TRANSFERRABLE' and 'UNAVAILABLE', and therefore NOT NEGOTIABLE.

2. rejects vehemently the role of the President of FUNAI in the whole episode, since who has the legal duty to protect and make respect the indigenous rights never could have assumed a supposedly impartial posture and much less participated in the pressures on those whose rights he should defend.

3. denounces the anti-indigenist policy of the Federal Government, which prefers to hit the Constitution in its sacred rights which recognise the demarcation of lands traditionally occupied by indigenous peoples, benefitting the interests of a multinational company which invaded these mentioned lands.

4. clamours, for the benefit of the public interest and a state which respects democracy and civil rights, for the imediate repeal of the decrees nrs. 253 and 268/98 which forbid the entrance of non-governmental organizations in the indigenous lands Tupinikim and Guarani in Espirito Santo.

5. elevates the gestures of solidarity that the Indians received from so many parts of the land and from abroad, especially from the society of Espirito Santo which always has been in favour of the Indians struggle. It is worth emphasizing that the support and solidarity of the MST, CUT, the Workers Party, human rights organizations and other organizations of the state of Espirito Santo, obtained special importance during the self-demarcation promoted by the Tupinikim and Guarani. At the same time, CIMI rejects the usage of legislation to impede the fundamental right of showing solidarity.

6. wants to show all its solidarity with the Tupinikim and Guarani communities, victims of so much pressure, and reaffirms its uncompromising support to their struggle for a real solution of the problem, that is to say, the demarcation of the 13,579 ha, untransferrable and essential right which no agreement can undo.