World Rainforest Movement

Brazil: Indigenous Peoples re-start actions to take back their land from Aracruz

In an “Open Letter to the population and Brazilian authorities”, the Commission of Tupinikim and Guarani Chiefs and Leaders state:

“Today (24/07/2007) we are starting to carry out several peaceful actions with the aim of retaking possession of the 11,009 hectares of lands that belong to us and that have already been thoroughly identified by the FUNAI [the Federal Agency for Indigenous Issues] as lands traditionally occupied by us, Tupinikim and Guarani.

Initially we plan to halt the cutting of eucalyptus trees and take the non-indigenous persons, who are illegally in our lands, out of the area. Then, we will organize collective working days to reconstruct some of our villages (Olho d´Agua, Macacos and Areal), destroyed by Aracruz Celulose when it invaded our lands. We will build houses and plant food crops and native tree species in order to recover and reforest our lands.

Through a stop in the cutting of eucalyptus trees and taking out the non-indigenous people, we aim at protecting the eucalyptus plantations, so that they can be used as payments for due reimbursements to Aracruz Celulose for the existing ‘improvements’ in the 11,009 hectares. The halting of the eucalyptus cutting will also apply to us, indigenous peoples, as one more proof of our desire to cooperate with a quick and peaceful solution to the problem.

However, we want to reaffirm that our actions result from the delay of the federal government in solving a dispute that has been going on now for almost 40 years. We always complied with our commitments with the government, but the government not always complied with theirs. It is worth while to remember that the ex-Minister of Justice Márcio Thomas Bastos, during a public meeting in the Espirito Santo State Parliament in February 2006, promised to demarcate our lands by the end of 2006. However, in January 2007, just before leaving the Ministry, he irregularly sent back the land demarcation files to FUNAI, in spite of the fact that he had all the necessary elements to sign the demarcation decrees of our lands. Recently, 7 months later, the files returned to the Ministry of Justice. How much more time will be necessary for signing the demarcation decrees and other necessary measures?

Finally, we want to make clear that our struggle aims at recovering our land and that we will not desist from this right. If the neglect and delay of the federal government persists, we will intensify our actions to consolidate the possession of the lands of our ancestors and of our children and grandchildren, including restarting the cutting of eucalyptus trees by the indigenous communities.”

24 July 2007, Commission of Tupinikim and Guarani Chiefs and Leaders