If a new bill is approved and the law is changed, it could have a big effect on next year’s elections: a number of members of Congress could find themselves being prosecuted and, in some cases, facing jail sentences if convicted.
By Brazzil Magazine




One for the Tribe

With a toré (ritual dance) around the tomb of Galdino Jesus dos Santos in Pau Brasil, southern Bahia, the Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe celebrated their victory in one of Brazil’s most controversial trials in recent years. All sessions were packed with people during the four days of the trial. Outside the courtroom of the Jury Tribunal of Brasília, dozens of people waited for an opportunity to watch the trial that condemned Max Rogério Alves, Antônio Novély Cardoso de Vilanova, Tomás Oliveira de Almeida, and Eron Chaves Oliveira to 14 years in prison.

Inside the courtroom, most people watching the trial were law students who sympathized with the defendants. Of the 274 seats available in the courtroom, indigenous people occupied only 32. This majority could be clearly perceived in the boos that were heard when the Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe rose to applaud the jurors for their decision. It was the last humiliation they experienced during the trial.

The Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe did not question the rules. They simply accepted the instructions to take the seats reserved for them at the back of the auditorium and moved to the first rows when they were informed that, according to the rules of the court, they had this right. They were anxious to see, face to face, those who were responsible for the crime. Minervina de Jesus, Galdino’s mother, cried when she saw the defendants and had a hard time dealing with reporters.

The Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe, like the Xukuru, Truká, Tupinambá, Tumbalalá, Macuxi and Tembé who were with them to express their solidarity, went through painful moments during the trial. They cried when they heard insults against the memory of Galdino and when they saw the pictures of the forensic report showing his situation after being burned alive. Galdino’s sister, Marilene de Jesus, and the Pataxó Anaiá became very nervous after these episodes. As a precaution, Mrs. Minervina and other elderly indigenous women were taken out of the courtroom before the pictures were shown.

They held their emotions even when they were informed about the result of the trial by one of the prosecutors. They calmly agreed to wait until the sentence was read aloud. After all, they waited for four years and seven months and had to face many judicial battles before the jury trial was held.

In the state of Bahia, a lot of people were eager to know the result of the trial and kept making lots of phone calls. Those who stayed there ensured the resistance in reoccupied farms. Since October 22, the Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe reoccupied 66 farms that encroach upon the Caramuru-Catarina-Paraguassu indigenous area. They were expelled at gunpoint from two of them. The conflict led Funai to resume the survey of the area for the purpose of compensating the occupants of the land for improvements made therein in good faith.

The end of the trial of the murderers of Galdino Jesus dos Santos brought relief to Mrs. Minervina de Jesus, who has lost two of her older sons in the battle for the land. It was also a relief to the Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe, who have seen 13 of their leaders die in 20 years of struggle. However, while the murderers have indeed been convicted, the occupation of the indigenous land and the end of the conflicts in southern Bahia are still goals that depend on judicial decisions.

They are waiting for the justice of the Supreme Federal Court (STF), Nelson Jobim, to issue a decision on an Action to Nullify Title Deeds to farms that encroach upon their lands. A signed petition with over 18,000 signatures collected as part of an international campaign for the demarcation of the indigenous land has been delivered to the justice during the trial. It may be the end of a 19-year struggle and the beginning of their dream to live in peace in their traditional land.


This material was originally published by News from Brazil, supplied by SEJUP (Serviço Brasileiro de Justiça e Paz—Brazilian Service of Justice and Peace. Visit their home page at http://www.oneworld.org/sejup/



Correction, Please

The ABRA (Associação Brasileira de Reforma Agrária—Brazilian Agrarian Reform Association (ABRA) is contesting what the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has to say about agrarian reform in Brazil in the FAO’s “State of the World of Food and Agriculture – 2001.” According to the Association, certain passages of the report “are a far cry from the scientific care and political neutrality that characterize the report as a whole.” ABRA wrote to the FAO director general, Jacque Diouf, asking that corrections be made.

According to the letter from ABRA, the FAO report “reproduces, in various moments, data and discourse from the Brazilian government about the supposed merits and achievements of the Agrarian Reform program.”

The FAO report says that the Fernando Henrique Cardoso administration has done the most for agrarian reform in the country, when that “was the exclusive result of the intensification of struggles of Brazilian rural workers, augmented with the internal and international repercussions of the massacres at Corumbiara and Eldorado de Carajás.”

Another point that ABRA regards as incorrect is in regards to the Rural Land Tax (ITR). The 1996 ITR legislation, cited as coercive and punitive for the large landowners’ properties, is milder that the previous 1994 law. The proposed revenue from the tax for 2002 is $99 million, while in the last year of the 1994 legislation $114 million was raised. In other words, this year’s ITR revenue will be 47.5% less than that of the previous law if corrected for inflation.

ABRA also disagrees with the manner in which the number of land settlements realized between 1997 and 1999 is presented and the World Bank’s market-based agrarian reform program. These two points, cited by the FAO as positive, are shown to be far from reality. The Cédula da Terra program, for example, has various irregularities, such as the precarious nature of the technical reports, the over-valuing of land and productivity on unproductive large land holdings. The ABRA letter demonstrates these and other errors in specific cases in Bahia, Minas Gerais, Maranhão and Pernambuco.

Upon receiving the FAO report, the Cardoso administration published congratulatory ads with the headline, `Even the United Nations praises Agrarian Reform in Brazil’ in major Brazilian newspapers. According to the ABRA letter, “besides the publicity in the press, the Internet pages of the Ministry of Agrarian Development and INCRA (National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform), continued to celebrate the `approval of the UN’ of the agrarian reform program. They published the section on Brazil in the FAO document. However, as usual, two types of fraud were detected in the material: 1) the FAO text was not reproduced in its entirety; passages that did not interest the government’s propaganda were eliminated; 2) the unfaithful translation of certain passages in the report, changing words and expressions from the original text, in ways that would amplify the supposed merits of the government.”




Movie Time

The 4th Brazilian Congress of Cinema congregating 36 organizations dealing with movies in Brazil, has just ended this past November 11. Among other measures, the meeting chose a new president. He is renowned film producer Assunção Hernandes who produced among other movies A Hora da Estrela (The Hour of the Star), which won a Silver Bear in the Berlin Movie Festival. Gustavo Dahl, the previous president, from now on will be directing Ancine (Agência Nacional do Cinema—National Agency for Cinema), a federal agency that regulates the movie market in Brazil. Dahl was nominated for the post by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

For short-movie producers the highlight of the encounter was the moment when an agreement was announced between them and exhibitors establishing that movie theaters from now on will show shorts before the feature attraction. Such exhibition was obligatory during the eighties, but was abolished in 1990 by President Fernando Collor de Mello when Embrafilme/Concine were extinguished.

According to the agreement multiplexes will show combined shorts in one-hour session programs. Other theaters will show them before the main attraction. Exhibitors also declared their commitment to show national movies, promote their release through serious marketing and do something as simple as showing the movies at the previous scheduled dates. Everybody seemed happy at the end of the congress. So much so that Ugo Sorrentino, president of the National Federacy of Movie Exhibitors, called the encounter the “Consensus Congress”.

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