Brazil’s Justice Minister Accused of Illegality on Indian Land

The Guarani/Tupinikim Indians from Brazil are on a dispute with Aracruz Celulose One hundred and twenty days after the legal deadline, Brazil's Minister of Justice, Márcio Thomas Bastos, came to a decision on the Tupinikim/Guarani land demarcation process, disputed by the indigenous people and by the multinational Aracruz Celulose.

Bastos chose to return the process to Funai so that new studies could be carried out "with the aim of drawing up a suitable proposal, which can meet the interests of both parties."

In a letter, indigenous people and human rights entities point out that the suggestion to "satisfy the interests" is illegal, because it goes against the constitutional principle that lands identified as indigenous are non-transferable and unavailable.

"Neither the Federal Government nor indigenous peoples can negotiate this indigenous people's right as it is forbidden by the Constitution (Art. 231, Paragraph 4 – Federal Constitution).

"Everything seems to indicate that the minister's intention is to delay demarcation of these lands," the entities and individuals claim in a letter with 202 signatures.

The communities affected by Thomaz Bastos' decision have also shown their indignation in a note written during the Tupinikim and Guarani General Assembly, which brought together 300 representatives of these peoples at the Caieras Velha Village last on March 3.

In this document, they state: "We do not accept any agreement involving our lands, even if Funai carries out new studies to change the boundaries defined by the Funai Technical Group in 1997."

"We are very outraged (…) because we know that the minister has all that he needs to sign the demarcation orders for our lands. We are even more outraged at the decision to ask Funai to carry out studies to conciliate our interests with those of Aracruz Celulose," the note continues.

The 300 representatives who attended the Assembly went to the meeting with the backing of earlier meetings held in the communities.

In the letter, the entities demand the immediate repeal of the dispatch restoring the administrative process, "because this decision conflicts with the constitutional rights of the Tupinikim and Guarani"; and they ask for "the immediate publication of the declaratory and demarcation orders for the Tupinikim and Guarani lands, in accordance with the reports issued by FUNAI."

An agreement signed by the indigenous people and Aracruz Celulose in 1998, and challenged by the Public Prosecutor's Office ever since, allowed the Tupinikim and Guarani lands to be demarcated with an area of 7,061 hectares, and not with the approximately 18,000 hectares that had been identified in earlier anthropological reports.

After this agreement, land conflicts continued because a large part of the Tupinikim and Guarani communities decided to stick to their claim for all of the traditionally occupied lands.

According to Public Prosecutor's Office (MPF) "the agreement is null and void because the Federal Constitution establishes that all civilian acts dealing with indigenous lands are null. The provisions of the agreement in which the indigenous people renounced to any of their rights over the lands are invalid," says the document signed by federal prosecutor Luciana L. Oliveira.
 
Cimi – Indianist Missionary Council

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