Brazilian Indians Forced to Act as Police to Defend Their Land

The Karitianas live in the north of Brazil The Karitiana people in the northern Brazilian state of Rondônia are being forced to defend their territory themselves. The absence of public authorities there forces them to take action to prevent invaders and miners from invading indigenous lands.

Last month, these people, who live at a distance of 60 miles from Porto Velho, the capital of the state of Rondônia, spotted two young people entering their village without authorization, who had disregarded signs indicating that it is an indigenous land.

The youths told the Karitiana that they were trying to avoid a Federal Highway Police station located at km 45 of the BR 364 highway, as they didn't have the required documents for the motorcycle they were using.

They were allowed to leave the area on March 27 in the afternoon, after the Karitiana secured a commitment from the National Foundation for Indigenous People that it would inspect their land to try to find invaders in them as an urgent matter and would complete the demarcation of the Rio Candeias indigenous land and remove occupants and invaders from the already-demarcated land of the Karitiana.

In November of last year, the Karitiana caught five miners invading their land, who told them that there were 50 other miners inside the area. On that occasion, they turned the invaders over to Funai and to the police, demanding an inspection in their territory.

The Karitiana want the Rio Candeias land, which they reoccupied in 2003, to be identified as an indigenous land. On that occasion, Funai set up a working group to identify the land, but the required surveys for this purpose have not advanced.

Farmers who produced illegal title deeds to that land when the PLANAFLORO (Agriculture/livestock and Forest Plan for the Amazon Region) was launched continue to occupy the territory and destroy forests there, as well as vestiges of indigenous presence and sacred places for the Karitiana. This destruction could be avoided if the process for identifying the land had not been stalled since 2003.

Besides inspection problems, the Karitiana suffer with the absence of public authorities: Without having completed all grades of the second segment of elementary education (5th to 8th grade) and secondary education, many young people have moved to cities; the health care available to them is also precarious.

Cimi – Indianist Missionary Council

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