Two notes issued at end of last month by Brazil's Indianist Missionary Council (Cimi) and the Forum in Defense of Indigenous Rights (FDDI) report political pressures against the demarcation of indigenous lands in the state of Santa Catarina.
On April 19, the Brazilian Minister of Justice, Tarso Genro, signed an administrative ruling declaring four lands in the state as indigenous lands – all of which were included in a list of 34 lands whose processes were stalled at the ministry of Justice and three of which had a decision pending since 2001.
The note issued by Cimi says that "anti-indigenous sectors in the state of Santa Catarina have been using newspapers to say that farmers have armed themselves and there may be bloodshed."
The note issued by the Forum also focuses on actions of representatives who are against the demarcation of indigenous lands:
"For a long time these representatives have been making threats and have been hindering the demarcation of lands traditionally occupied by indigenous peoples in Santa Catarina.
"In recent years, public hearings were held at the External Committee of the Senate and at the Legislative Assembly of Santa Catarina, and many caravans of mayors and state representatives came to Brasília intent on preventing any demarcation of indigenous lands in the State.
"In this context, an illegal "Special Committee for Indigenous Issues" was set up at the Ministry of Justice by former minister Márcio Thomas Bastos to "follow up" on matters related to indigenous lands and suggest solutions for indigenous issues in Santa Catarina. After the Committee was set up, no indigenous land has been recognized as such."
The regional South office of Cimi said that all families of farmers now have the right to be indemnified for improvements made in lands they have been occupying: squatters will be resettled by the Land Reform Institute (Incra) and improvements made in good faith in farms will be indemnified by the state of Santa Catarina.
This action is provided for in the State Constitution for cases in which the state government allowed lands to be invaded and issued title deeds to lands which farmers bought from companies in charge of settling people in different areas.
"Actions are therefore necessary to force the state of Santa Catarina to indemnify small farmers immediately."
And more: "This is how we believe justice will be done for indigenous peoples and small farmers who were victims of the same system which promotes large land landownership schemes. In order not to displease large landowners, the state encouraged and legalized invasions of indigenous lands," said the regional South office of Cimi.
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