Chief Damião Paridzané at Rio Centro and letter to President Dilma

Rio de Janeiro – This thursday, indigenous chief Damião Paridzané will be at the Rio Centro to demand the fulfillment of the promise to remove the invaders from the Marãiwatsédé Indigenous Land (Matro Grosso, Brazil). The Xavante people were removed from there in 1966 by the military government. Damião was in Eco 92 to demand that his people be allowed to return to Marãiwatsédé. The Brazilian Governmen promised to return the land to the Marãiwatsédé, but instead it has been illegally divided and deforested. Marãiwatsédé is today the most deforested indigenous land in the Brazilian Amazon.

Follows Damião’s letter:

President Dilma Rousseff

I (chief Damião Paridzané) came to Rio+20 with other representatives of the Xavante people to demand assurance from the brazilian government that it will immediately execute the plan to remove all invaders from the Marãiwatsédé Indigenous Land (Mato Grosso). And that the Xavante people are allowed to fully occupy our lands, as promised 20 years ago, in Eco 92.

During the past 20 years, Marãiwatsédé has become the most deforested indigenous land in the Brazilian Amazon. The illegal soy production and cattle ranching in our sacred land are a shame upon our country. These twenty years have also not been enough for the nation’s Justice system to gather the strength to implement decision that respects the Federal Constitution and indigenous people, and that was taken unanimously in response to the illegal occupation of our lands.

Despite having our territory recognized, demarcated and approved since 1998, we only occupy 5% of the land which is rightly ours because farmers and politicians threaten us, destroy our forest in Marãiwatsédé leaving our community without animals to hunt, fruits and the traditional remedies we need. They also pollute the rivers that supply our villages with agro-toxic chemicals, which results in our children being sick with diarrhea, vomits and pneumonia. While we are here in Rio de Janeiro, we received the news that one more child from our villages has died from desnutrition.

We have fought and suffered a lot to be here today. We do not want to waste the journey. We came to Rio+20 to ask the Federal Government to finally fulfill its promise the justice’s decision, which last month overturned the injunction that suspended the removal of farmers. Now, the removal of invaders is once again authorized. We the government to allow the rapid transfer of invaded lands to the Xavante people, and provide the necessary assistance to guarantee our physical and cultural integrity and the recuperation of destroyed lands over the past 20 years.

20 years waiting is a long time.

I grew up in Marãiwatsédé before contact with the white man. I have been fighting for 46 years. I was a child when the government removed my community in the Brazilian Air Force planes in 1966. Since that time we have been fighting to return and recover our land. I am tired. But I will not give up. Ever.

Cacique Damião Paridzané

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