Victory for Brazilian Natives

The Brazilian Supreme Court of Justice voted on March 19, in favour of the native populations of the reserve of Raposa Serra do Sol, in the State of Roraima. This means that justice has enforced the decree that President Lula issued in 2005, when coming to power, by which ownership and exclusive land use was recognized for the natives of Raposa Serra do Sol, forcing all other people to abandon the land.

This favourable vote is essential regarding the respect of native populations. This decision can ease the way for many other native reserves with similar occupation problems because of rice exploitations or other capitalist ventures.

Fernando López SJ, a member of the Itinerant Team was present at Roraima accompanying the natives during the judicial process. He sends the following report from Brazil:


Boa Vista, Roraima, Brasil, 18-19/03/2009

Dear brothers and sisters at Entreculturas:

A big hug from the Amazon!

I have been at Roraima, for the last month and a half. At the end, justice has been made! On the 18 and 19 of March, the Supreme Court of Justice closed the hearing on Tierra Indigena Raposa Serra do Sol. Out of the 11 judges of the court, 10 voted in favour of keeping the land and only one against. They also voted for the immediate departure of the business men that had invaded the lands.

The natives had organized three groups during the hearing. The largest group was concentrated at the community of Barro (Surumu), in the native land, where on May 5, 2008, 10 natives had been attacked and wounded by the shooters of the invading farmer Pablo Cesar Quartiero.

Another group of about 30 people, travelled to Brasilia to participate directly in the hearing. Finally, around 100 people gathered at the head office of their organization (Conselho Indigena de Roraima - CIR) here in Boa Vista, the capital of the State of Roraima.

I had the opportunity of accompanying the group at Roraima. There were intense and extremely exciting moments. A very important chapter of of the native populations of Raposa Serra do Sol and of all Brazil was about to be closed after 36 years of resistance and non violent fighting by the natives, against the unlimited violence of the invaders. With a lot of suffering and blood shed (21 leaders murdered and many violent attacks) victory was conquered with many supporters around the world.

When the President of the Supreme Court of Justice gave the final verdict in favour of the natives and the immediate expulsion of the farmers, there was an explosion of applause, weeping, embracing...
They started to pray, singing and dancing the chamanes and all present joined in.

This went on into the night. At dawn, the delegation of leaders from Brasilia arrived and they were received with songs and dancing. The following day they all left for Barro (Surumu). They continued to celebrate in their own land, the land of Makunaima, who from the beginning had given the land to their ancestors so that their children and the children of their children could continue with the dance of life over the Mama-Tierra.

During the acknowledgment to the leaders, Jacir Makuxi, one of the most significant leaders, remembered hi strip to Europe in June 2008, to talk about what was going on and asking for solidarity. He thanked all his "European relatives" for the support received.

I want to transmit the gratitude of the leader "tuxaua" Jacir Makuxi and my own personal gratitude as a brother. Thank you to all those who have supported the fight of the natives. It is the fight so that all the earth's populations may live well, with dignity, justice and fraternity in this Big House that is the Mama-Tierra (Mother Land). Her victory is also our victory; it is the victory of the human race and the planet that wants life for all and not only for just a few!

Together, weaving other possible worlds, urgent and necessary.

Together we can, alone we cannot!

With warmth and gratitude,
Your brother, Fernando