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Brazzil - Indians - January 2004

Brazil: Here, City Hall Does the Kidnapping

Brazil's Indianist Missionary Council says it has evidence indicating
that the city hall of Uiramutã, in the state of Roraima is involved
in the abduction of three catholic missionaries. The three
religious men defend the Indians' historical right to lands
in the region. Many people have been threatened with death.



There is abundant evidence that the city hall of Uiramutã was involved in the abduction of three missionaries, namely, the Brazilian Priest Ronildo Pinto França, the Spanish Priest Cézar Avellaneda, and the Colombian Brother Juan Carlos Martinez, on the 6th of January in the state of Roraima, Brazil.

The involvement of the city hall became clear when the missionaries and witnesses testified that a truck with the emblem of the city hall of Uiramutã carried the kidnappers to the Surumu mission and, later on, carried one of the kidnapped priests to the Contão village. Uiramutã is run by Mayor Florany Mota, who joined the Workers' Party (PT) recently.

In addition to using the truck in the abduction, the mayor of Uiramutã took part in anti-indigenous demonstrations and said publicly that she does not support the historical right of indigenous peoples to their lands.

Cimi believes that the Workers' Party should carefully consider the participation of the governor of Roraima, Flamarion Portela, in acts of violence against the official confirmation of the bounds of indigenous areas in his state and do something about his omission and his political position against indigenous rights.

Death Threats

The regional administrator of the National Indigenous Foundation (Funai), Edson Beiriz, filed an official report with the 6th Coordinating and Reviewing Chamber for Indigenous Communities and Minorities of the Federal Prosecution Service, January 13, denouncing a plot to murder him.

In the report, Beiriz, who works with the Xavante people of the Marãiwatsedé indigenous land—who are camped in the Suyá Missú farm in Alto Boa Vista (state of Mato Grosso)—mentions that witness S.R. "heard three men saying that they were headed for the city of Goiânia (state of Goiás) to kill the Funai official called Edson Beiriz and a mulatto known as Denivaldo because they were responsible for the presence of Xavante indigenous people in that conflict area".

In the document, witness S.R. also says that the three men had unsuccessfully tried to kill Beiriz on two previous occasions.

The administrator of Funai suspects that the threats came from local politicians and large farmers who invaded the Marãiwatsedé land, the bounds of which have been officially confirmed and registered already.

A justification hearing was scheduled by the Judge of the 5th Court of Cuiabá, José Pires, for the 29th of this month. Such hearings are commonly granted to deal with land tenure-related proceedings, and in this case its purpose is to confirm that the area involved is an indigenous land.

Without any kind of police protection so far, Beiriz fears for his life and for his family', "lately, I and my family have been very fearful and cautious due to the threats we have been receiving. However, I have no plans to give up my duties as a federal civil servant".

Bishop Threatened

Late in December, the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB) issued a note expressing concerns with the constant death threats received by Dom Pedro Casaldáliga, the bishop of São Félix do Araguaia (state of Mato Grosso), and asking the government to "send Federal Police officers in sufficient numbers to the conflict area to ensure the physical integrity of the Xavante people; resettle all squatters covered by the land reform program; and ensure the safety of Dom Pedro Casaldáliga and of other agents of his Pastoral who have been receiving death threats for defending the rights of the Xavante to their land".

At a moment when Dom Pedro, indigenous leaders, and supporters of the indigenous cause like Edson Beiriz suffer with these threats, 80 members of the Xavante people are still camped in a farm in Suyá-Missu under the threat of being shot by 40 squatters and without any protection from the Federal Police or from the Military Police.

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 cimi@embratel.net.br

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