Twenty years. This marks not only the time between Eco 92 and Rio+20, but also the time that the Xavante people- an indigenous group in Brazil- have been waiting to reclaim their traditional land, Maraiwatsede. At the time, in 1992, leader Cacique Damião Paridzané publicly accepted the donation by Agip, the Italian gas company who then had legal ownership of the land, and who was pressured by environmentalists to give it back to the Xavante.
Twenty years have passed and since then, the Xavante have not yet been able to spend a single day in that land. As soon as Agip handed over its ownership, illegal cattle ranchers took advantage of the situation, quickly settling and refusing to leave. Now, Cacique Paridzané wants to take the opportunity of the Rio+20 Earth Summit where heads of state of dozens of countries will gather, to make sure this 20 year-old promise is kept.
The Xavante people have tried every legal channel to try to reclaim their land, but unfortunately the Brazilian judicial system is too slow and rarely favor indigenous people and small farmers over big land owners and cattle ranchers. After two decades and tired of waiting, Cacique Paridzané and his people decided to take action, knowing that Rio+20 is their one and only opportunity to draw attention from government officials and public opinion to finally make sure that the unitrusion plan is finally implemented.
From June 20th to the 22nd, governments, journalists and civil society from all over the world will turn to Rio de Janeiro for the Earth Summit and the Xavante leaders are preparing an exciting action to draw attention to their cause and demand that the Brazilian government finally listens to them. Let’s show them that the Brazilian people (and citizens from around the world) support them in their struggle to reclaim their land, sign Cacique Paridzané’s petition.