[08/16/06] MST Informa #123: Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples

Dear Friends of the MST,

We want to ask for your solidarity. On August 20, the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) will deliver the final report about the 18,000 hectares of indigenous lands in the north of Espirito Santo, today owned by Aracruz Cellulose. The area originally belonged to the Tupiniquim and Guarani peoples but in 1967, the company began to plant eucalyptus indiscriminately and evicted the villages from the region. Before the arrival of Aracruz, there were 40 indigenous villages in the state. Today there are only seven. At the same time, the company also entered the lands of more than 10 thousand afro-descendants and small farmers who lived as landowners in the state. One of those responsible for the extinction of the indigenous people, Aracruz wipes out cultures and human beings.

In the lands that were formerly productive, today biodiversity is practically nonexistent. Where before there was native forest, the vegetation is now all eucalyptus, which forms an actual green desert where birds and flowers cannot reproduce themselves and no food is produced. According to reports from the indigenous peoples, even water has already begun to disappear: one foot of eucalyptus of 15 meters high is capable of absorbing around 3.6 thousand liters of water per year, threatening the water table of the region.

As a study that ended this year pointed out, if the indigenous people were still on their lands, that would not happen. The study compared the deforestation within and outside the 121 indigenous Brazilian lands, 15 national parks, 10 rubber-extracting reserves and 18 national forests between 1997 and 2000. According to the report, the indigenous lands help prevent the deforestation as much as the conservation units of indirect use such as national parks.
Faced with this situation, the indigenous people mobilized to recover the lands and in 2005, occupied the area where one of their ancestral cemeteries is located. On January 20 of this year, Aracruz Cellulose mobilized helicopters, bombs, arms, tractors, and 120 agents of the Federal Police to destroy the two rebuilt villages and evict the native peoples. The eviction was violent and left marks on the bodies and in the memory of the communities.
After the violent eviction, the Justice Minister, Márcio Thomas Bastos, promised to sign the order limiting the area as soon as he received the process with the documents. The report, which will be delivered on the 20th, points out that the indigenous territory in the state is 18,070 hectares with 11,009 hectares still in the possession of Aracruz. Besides this, the technical studies concluded that those lands are essential for the physical and cultural survival of the indigenous peoples.

Warning about the arbitrariness that is accumulating and the perverse consequences for the indigenous peoples in Espírito Santo, we demand that this time the promise must be fulfilled and human rights take priority over the economic interests of the multinational eucalyptus corporation.

To ensure the demarcation of the lands, the indigenous began a campaign of sending emails to Minister Márcio Thomas Bastos. We in the MST support the initiative and we that in some measure the historic debt with these people can be repaid. We call on all in the name of the true owners of the Brazilian lands, to join this chain of solidarity.
To participate, address your emails to: gabinetemj@mj.gov.br

A warm embrace,

from the National Secretariat of the MSTBreves

Carajás: Indemnity for only 20 of the more than 70 who were wounded

Ten years after the Massacre of Eldorado dos Carajás (PA), in which 19 landless workers were killed, none of those responsible for the crime is in prison. At the beginning of August, 20 survivors won an indemnity of $R1.2 million. The value is less than half of what had earlier been ordered by the Court, and will not be paid until 2008. According to Charles Trocate, member of the national leadership of the MST, it’s a small victory. The number of wounded is over 70 but only 20 have the necessary documentation to process the claim to the State.

The library of the Florestan Fernandes National School is inaugurated

On August 5, a large commemoration marked the official opening of the library of the Florestan Fernandes National School. Around 150 people were present, including Professor Emeritus of the University of São Paulo (USP), Antônio Cândido, Professor Heloísa Fernandes, also from USP, and João Pedro Stedile, member of the national coordinating body of the MST. During his presentation, Cândido highlighted the importance of books in the lives of human beings. The book kills hunger in the head, serves as instruction and for the imagination, rights as important as food, he stated.