January 10, 2003nd
was found this week, buried in a shallow grave. It is feared that he was
murdered by a worker from a ranch in the area, which is owned by a local
politician. Lack of permanent definition of RSS continues to generate and
exacerbate conflicts, resulting all too often in tragedy. The time is now to
resolve the situation by ratifying RSS.
Thanks for signing on to the letter regarding the ratification of Raposa Serra
do Sol in Brazil. Unfortunately, despite our campaign and the hard work done on
the ground by the Indigenous Council of Roraima, former Brazilian President
Fernando Henrique Cardoso did not ratify Raposa Serra do Sol before leaving
Had Cardoso signed the ratification of RSS, celebrations in the area would have
echoed across the world. We were indeed hopeful, and kept listening for those
celebrations through the end of the year. There were hopeful signs: the
Brazilian government itself recognized CIR for it’s work on the issue through
two awards. We also learned that the government officials targeted through our
campaign were receiving some 50 e-mails per hour!
Unfortunately, however, the new year came and went without Cardoso signing the
ratification. Tension remains high in the area, and is reaching a breaking
point. The body of a Macuxi man who went missing from the community of Maturuca
on January 2
On January 1st,
Luís Inácio Lula da Silva became president. We are hopeful that with him, RSS
will finally be ratified. Despite the contagious climate of hope in Brazil,
however, the new government has said nothing to date about RSS, nor about
Indigenous rights in general. We therefore feel it is important to continue the
Below please find a model letter to Lula, as well as the new Minister of Justice
and Secretary of State for Human Rights (we've also attached it, in MS Word,
which may be easier for you to print out or recycle). Please do take a moment to
send them a letter rather than doing a joint letter, we’re encouraging
everyone to send their own, so the new administration will receive as many as
possible. Now is a crucially important time, reflecting on the escalation of
tensions in the area, and as the new government determines its priorities and
CIR is also planning to launch a campaign oriented toward the Brazilian public
during the World Social Forum, coming up in Porto Alegre. If you plan on
attending, do seek them out. Meanwhile, we will let you know of any new
developments. Please do send copies of your letters to us at firstname.lastname@example.org,
and keep in touch.
Thanks, and best wishes for the new year.
Christine Halvorson Hermann Edelmann
Rainforest Foundation-US Pro Regenwald, Germany
PS: Please help us spread the word by adding this alert (or one like it) to your
website, your next newsletter, sending it out to your e-mail lists, etc. Pro
Regenwald has set up a campaign site (www.wald.org/raposa/index4.php3),
inviting individuals and organizations to sign on to the campaign. It generates
automatic messages to the Brazilian officials, and registers public support for
the campaign. All of the organizations that signed the letter to Cardoso are
listed on the site. Please do invite your members/supporters to add their names
Luís Inácio Lula da Silva
President of the Federative Republic of Brazil
Fax.: 011 55 61 411 2222
Dear Mr. President:
As someone [an organization] concerned with sustainable development, human
rights, and Indigenous peoples, we have followed closely the sweeping call for
change that brought you to power in Brazil.
We are aware of and laud you for your longstanding commitment to social issues.
Given your history and that of your new administration, we are confident that
Brazil will take enormous strides in recognizing Indigenous rights, including
the right to land, as guaranteed in the Constitution.
From what we understand, it is not difficult to conclude that one of the most
serious situations among Indigenous peoples in Brazil today is that of the lack
of official recognition of Raposa Serra do Sol. Located in the state of Roraima,
Raposa Serra do Sol is the traditional land of the Macuxi, Wapixana, Taurepang,
Patamona and Ingaricó peoples, numbering some 15,000. Without final
ratification, the area remains invaded by miners, squatters, and townships, to
the detriment of Indigenous communities. Indeed, Indigenous peoples are the
principal victims of the situation, as conflicts continue and multiply. Due to
this situation, tension is high in the area, and is reaching a breaking point
with the recent murder of a Macuxi man from the community of Maturuca. This
murder is the latest in a series of human rights abuses committed in the area
over the years. Hopefully, it is also the last.
Final ratification of Raposa Serra do Sol had been prevented by a legal
challenge in Brazilian courts since 1999. This issue was resolved in late
November of last year, however, and arguments against the full recognition of
Raposa Serra do Sol were denied. Today, there are no legal arguments preventing
the President of the Republic from ratifying the area.
We therefore respectfully request that you consider ratifying the demarcation of
Raposa Serra do Sol. It is the last major unresolved issue in terms of
demarcation of Indigenous lands in Brazil. We have followed the demands of the
Indigenous peoples of Raposa Serra do Sol through successive governments, and
their pleading is long overdue.
Ratification of Raposa Serra do Sol represents both a challenge and an
opportunity. We understand you have been there yourself, so you certainly see
the challenges. But as you have pointed out more than once, your election
reflects the moment that hope wins over fear in Brazil. Ratification is an
opportunity to guarantee a future without fear and full of hope for the
Indigenous peoples of Raposa Serra do Sol.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter.
Márcio Tomáz Bastos
Minister of Justice
Fax: 011 55 61 3226817
No e-mail currently available.
Secretary of State for Human Rights
Fax: 011 55 61 226 7980 or011 55 61 223 2260
No e-mail currently available.
Artur Nobre Mendes
President, National Indian Foundation (FUNAI)
Fax: 011 55 61 226 8782