The Xavante people return to Rio to demand the execution of promises made during Eco92.
Rio de Janeiro – “My show was taking of the air because one day the director asked my: who cares about Brazilian Indians? I never felt so constrained”, said actor Marcos Palmeira, who actively participated of the debate on the removal of non-Indians from the Indigenous Land Marãiwatsédé, at the People’s Summit. Palmeira, who has already been baptized by the Xavante and who maintains relationships full of respect with indigenous people, concluded: “This is a fight for dignity. It’s a fight of the Brazilian people against hypocrisy and demagogy. He was at the table with Marcos Apurinã (COIAB), Márcia Zollinger (federal public prosecutor of Mato Grosso), Marcio Astrini (Greenpeace), Aluizio Azanha (FUNAI), Ivar Busatto (OPAN), the antropologists Iara Ferraz and João Pacheco (Museu Nacional), beside the historical presence of chief Damião Paridzané.
Around 300 people participated and were moved by the event, which started with the exhibition of the short film by Marcelo Bichara “White men in Marãiwatsédé”, followed by the presentation of dance and ritual songs by the 13 Indians who travelled for 3 days from their village in the northeast of Mato Grosso, to Rio de Janeiro.
Marcos Apurinã, the general coordinator of COIAB, stressed that Marãiwatsédé stands as a symbol for the fights of all the Indians. It’s a dense, complex and perverse story, which involves the devastation, ever since Rio92, of around 90% of the indigenous land by large agrarian companies who have profited from the illegal production of meat and grains, as Marco Astrini from Greenpeace explained.
Anthropologist Iara Ferraz saw with her own eyes how politicians and land grabbers articulated, after Rio92, to invade Marãiwatsédé and she told her story to enable the audience to understand the situation in the region better. João Pacheco suggested a direct action. “The case of Marãiwatesede should be taken to the Committee of Truth. The Xavante people are in one of the most complicated situations ever seen in this country” he declared.
Through the words of Marcia Zollinger, public prosecutor of the Federal Public Ministry of Mato Grosso, the long and detailed judicial process which has been postponing the occupation of Marãiwatsédé by the Xavante, can be understand easily. Marcia was in one of the indigenous villages earlier this month to watch a part of the wapténhõno ritual, the most important one for the Xavante. She explained that thanks to a new decision by judge Souza Prudente, from the Federal Regional Court of the first Region (TRF-1), the removal of non-indians from Xavante territory is again authorized.
It is really absurd. Even with a unanimous judicial decision, even so we cannot make this happen. The state of Mato Grosso passed a law which is clearly unconstitutional, offering the Xavante the State Park of Araguaia in exchange for Marãiwatsédé, and because of this, judge Fagundes de Deus suspended the removal of non-indians in 2011. But now Funai (National Indian Foundation) has 20 days to present a plan for the removal of the invaders.
Aluizio Azanha, assistant of the presidency of Funai, informed that the plan will be executed in parts. “We will start by removing the larger landgrabbers. The support from the Federal Police will be essential because it’s a conflict area with many gunman” he said.
Chief Damião, who saw the broken promise of return of their land, after Rio92, when Marãiwatsédé was illegally auctioned by politicians from São Félix do Araguaia, asked for more guarantees this time. “I want to know what will guarantee that the land grabbers will leave. Will Rio+20 pass without solving this? What will FUNAI promise to do?” he asked.
During these 20 years that he and his community have waited for the end of the judicial process, he has already received many proposals from the government of Mato Grosso. “There is no point in negotiating with the governor. I don’t want to cheat or weaken the Federal Constitution. If I negotiate, I’ll gain 5 cows. The cow will die. The money will end. But land never ends” he stressed. “Many land grabbers wants to end my life, but I will not give up. I want my granddaughter alive on her land, which is Marãiwatsédé”.