Brazilian Indians Take Over Indian Agency Office in Protest

A group of 23 Apolima-Arara from the Arara do Amônia indigenous land, located in the municipality of Marechal Thaumaturgo, state of Acre, on December 6, occupied the headquarters of the Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Juruá River (Opirj).

That’s the same building where the representation of Funai (Indian National Foundation) in the municipality of Cruzeiro do Sul also has its office.

They traveled by boat for three days to get to Cruzeiro. According to the Apolima, they took this action because they have waited for too long for a solution in relation to the demarcation of their land, and particularly because no measures have been taken by Funai and Ibama (Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) to prevent the extraction of timber from the indigenous area.

On November 18, the indigenous people seized a cargo of timber and the boat which was transporting it. Only after the action of the indigenous people the Federal Police (PF) decided to do something and sent an agent to the conflict area to control the situation and ensure a minimum degree of safety in the region.

However, only Funai and Ibama can solve this issue once and for all. The two agencies, however, failed to attend a meeting which had been scheduled to discuss the situation.

At the encounter, representatives of Incra, the Federal Police, the State Secretariat for Indigenous Peoples, and the Environmental Institute of Acre reaffirmed that the problem will only be solved if Funai and Ibama make a true effort to tackle the issue. The agencies that attended the meeting will ask the Federal Prosecutor’s Office to demand a solution from Funai and Ibama.

The indigenous leaders who attended the meeting said that they will not leave the head office of Opirj until a definitive solution is devised for their problems: the extraction of timber from their land and its demarcation.

Timber is being extracted from the area because, among others reasons, woodcutters and even public agencies do not recognize the area as an indigenous land.

Funai’s most recent report, which was issued this year, confirmed for the third time that the 20,754,000-hectare area in question is the territory of the Apolima-Arara.
 
Demarcation

The 6th Panel of Judges of the Regional Federal Court of the 1st Region unanimously rejected an appeal filed by invaders of the Cachoeirinha indigenous land of the Terena people, located in the municipality of Miranda, state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

Because of this decision, a writ of prevention which prevented Funai from submitting the process to the minister of Justice for him to sign an administrative ruling declaring the bounds of the land has lapsed. The Decision was published in the Justice Gazette on December 4.

In September 2006, a delegation of ten leaders of the Terena people came to Brasí­lia to attend hearings with federal justices of the 6th Panel of Judges of the Regional Federal Court of the 1st Region to ask them to speed up the judgment of a mandamus which stalled the administrative procedures for demarcating the Cachoeirinha indigenous land.

The representatives of the indigenous communities talked to the rapporteur of the appeal, justice Daniel Paes Ribeiro, and mentioned to him how important it is to make sure that the actions are judged as quickly as possible. On that occasion, the justice pledged to submit the appeal for a decision before the end of the year.

On December 2, when they were informed about the decision of the Regional Federal Court during the celebrations of the first anniversary of the reoccupation of their lands at the Mãe Terra (Mother Earth) camp, the Terena people voiced their concerns about the need to make sure that Funai and the Ministry of Justice will deal with the case as soon as possible.

"We have made our decision not to leave this land, but only a governmental decision can give us the assurance that we can live in peace," said chief Zacarias Rodrigues during the celebrations.

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