Brazilian Authorities Disregard Own Decision and Reopen Forest for Exploration

On September 5, 2005, leaders of the Organization of Indigenous Peoples of Acre, South Region of Amazonas and Northwest Region of Rondônia (OPIN) issued a manifesto against the stalling of procedures for demarcating indigenous lands in the state of Acre and in south region of the state of Amazonas.

Almost one year later, the indigenous people published a new text in which they say that "nothing has been done by our rulers to change this situation."

In the manifesto issued on Thursday, August 17, they claim that procedures for officially establishing the bounds of 13 indigenous lands in the state of Acre and in the south region of the state of Amazonas should be resumed. They ask the authorities to begin to review the bounds of six lands and to begin to identify six other lands.

The leaders of OPIN stressed the conflicts being faced by the Apolima Arara people who live on the banks of the Amônia river: environmental agencies authorized the removal of timber from the area, which is in the process of being identified.

As a result of pressures applied by the indigenous people, the federal and the state environmental agencies (Ibama and Imac) suspended, in May 2006, licenses for exploiting and transporting forest products which had been issued to woodcutters until the situation of the land is defined.

However, according to Manoel Kaxinawá, coordinator of OPIN, about a month ago the same agencies disregarded their own decision and allowed the exploitation to continue, and now they are arguing that they must wait until Funai makes a final decision on the land for them to change their position.

An anthropologist had begun to carry studies on the Apolima Arara land in the first half of 2005, but after his death the indigenous people received no further information about how Funai was handling the procedure.

"We reject and we do not accept any interference from political groups, economic interests, IBAMA, IMAC and INCRA to hinder these processes, because we once again reaffirm that a constitutional right must be respected and fulfilled," the leaders say.



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