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Brazzil - Indians - February 2004

In Brazil, Indians Win Land But Can't Get It

The Xavante Indians were expelled from their land in 1967. In 1998,
the demarcation of the place was completed. However, five years
after this demarcation was registered, 80 Xavante are still
camped close to the area waiting for a judicial decision that
would finally make it possible for them to enter the land.


"I am here. I took off my shirt to show you where the farmer stabbed me. I bled a lot, but I didn't die. I am not here aimlessly, I am here to try and find solutions to the issue of the Maráiwatsedé land." Pointing to the scars in his abdomen and head left by knife wounds inflicted by invaders of his land and saying these words in his own language, the Xavante chief Raul Fxeretsu touched the hearts of all the participants in the seminar: "Indigenous Lands in Mato Grosso: the Issue of the Maráiwatsedé Land of the Xavante People," held January 27 at the auditorium of the Rondon Museum at the Federal University of Mato Grosso (UFMT), in Cuiabá.

In his statement, Raul also explained that the he had been wounded in a conflict in which, in addition to the stabs he got, five indigenous people were murdered.

The Xavante were expelled from the Maráiwatsedé land where, in 1967, the Suiá Missú farm was established. In 1998, the demarcation of the land was completed. However, even after their land was demarcated, its bounds officially confirmed, and the area was registered 5 years ago, 80 Xavante are still camped next to the BR-158 highway—near the municipality of Alto Boa Vista, 1,063 km from Cuiabá—waiting for a judicial decision that would finally make it possible for the indigenous people to enjoy their right to stay in the land, as provided for in the Brazilian Constitution.

In the opinion of one of the speakers in the seminar, Deputy Attorney and coordinator of the 6th Chamber of the Federal Prosecution Service, Ela Wiecko, the Judiciary Branch has tended to support the property right to the detriment of the right to remain alive and of the rights of indigenous people.

For this reason, she believes that "indigenous people should not engage in any negotiations. There is no doubt that they have the right to live in their lands. They have an original right that precedes the property right and the creation of the Brazilian State."

During the seminar, the rector of the Federal University of Mato Grosso, Paulo Speller, took on the commitment to organize a signed petition in favor of the struggle of the Xavante people of the Maráiwatsedé land and assign the Rondon Museum to collect the signatures.

In addition to the deputy attorney and the rector, the seminar was attended by the deputy secretary of the Indianist Missionary Council, Sebastião Moreira; by the anthropologist of the 6th Chamber of the Federal Prosecution Service, Marco Paulo Schettino and by the professor at the UFMT and anthropologist, Edir Pina.

Joining the Struggle

Representatives of social movements, such as unions, land movements, and nongovernmental organizations engaged in actions to defend human rights, met at the end of January in Campo Grande to issue a letter in support of the actions of the Guarani Nhandeva people to reoccupy their lands in the south region of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

In addition to announcing the support of organized civil society to the struggle of the indigenous people, the organizations listed in the letter will fight against the proposal of the government of the state to buy the lands from farmers to give them to the indigenous people. By doing this, the social movements are indicating that they want the lands to be demarcated immediately, according to the provisions of the Brazilian Constitution.

The group has plans to stage a march in support of the Guarani Nhandeva people and to collect provisions to be sent to them.

Cimi is Brazil's Indianist Missionary Council, an organization linked to CNBB, National Conference of Brazilian Bishops. You can get in touch with them by sending an email to

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