January 10, 2003

Dear friends,

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 office.

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
nd 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.

On January 1
st, 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 campaign.

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 actions.

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
raposa@wald.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 as well.


January, 2003

Luís Inácio Lula da Silva
President of the Federative Republic of Brazil
Fax.: 011 55 61 411 2222
E-mail: pr@planalto.gov.br

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.

Nilmário Miranda
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
E-mail: artur.mendes@funai.gov.br