About 300 Tupinikim and Guarani Indians from Brazil, last week, occupied Portocel, a port controlled by the Aracruz Celulose company, to press the government to demarcate lands being claimed by them in the municipality of Aracruz, state of EspÀrito Santo. They accuse Aracruz of having taken their lands illegally.
About one thousand employees of Aracruz Celulose and of outsourced companies entered the port and tried to remove the indigenous people from it. Some indigenous people and supporters of the occupation were beaten, amongst whom representative Cláudio Vereza, who is bound to a wheelchair.
Around 5 pm, after the director for environmental affairs of the Aracruz Celulose company arrived, the employees left the port. Early in the night, the indigenous people also decided to leave the port.
Ten Tupinikim and Guarani leaders will be coming to Brasília this week to try to solve the situation of their lands. They will be received by the president of the National Foundation for Indigenous People (Funai), Mércio Pereira Gomes, and they will try to have a meeting with the Minister of Justice, Márcio Thomaz Bastos.
"We will only leave Brasília after the minister tells us the decision he made about our lands," said chief Toninho Tupinikim.
On September 12, the ministry of Justice received a report issued by Funai recommending the demarcation of the land of the two peoples, and so far no decision about it has been made.
From that date, the minister of Justice would have a legal deadline of 30 days to sign the required administrative ruling for demarcating the lands or to ask for more information from Funai.
However, no measures have been taken so far. In February of this year, the minister of Justice pledged to issue this Administrative Ruling as soon as he received the report from Funai.
During the occupation, the indigenous people were supported by students of the Federal University of Espírito Santo, by militants of the Landless Movement (MST), and by other social movements.
On December 12, a demonstration was also held at the Brazilian consulate in New York and organizations in Germany and Norway delivered a signed petition in support of the demarcation of the Tupinikim and Guarani lands to the Brazilian embassies in those countries.
On December 8, a decree expropriating an area where the Krahô-Kanela people may live, located in the municipality of Lagoa da Confusão, in the state of Tocantins, was published in the Official Gazette.
The Krahô-Kanela are very happy with this fact, but they are still apprehensive, because the land has not been actually bought so far. According to Funai advisors, the process for allocating about US$ 4 million released by the National Land Reform Institute for this purchase has been completed now. After the land is purchased, the actual expropriation of the area will begin.
On December 27, at the Floresta Alagada village, the Krahô-Kanela people will throw a party to celebrate their return to their land after 30 years of pilgrimage. During this period, they were expelled from many different lands and were even forced to live in a house built on an old garbage dump in the municipality of Gurupi.
They will invite all organizations, congresspersons, and government advisors who supported them in their struggle to have their land back to the party.