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Brazil: Indigenous Peoples were marginalized by Governments, according to the CIMI

Servindi, December 30, 2010.- Over the last 30 years, the aspirations of the 241 indigenous peoples of Brazil to achieve a decent standard of living have been thwarted because successive governments have neglected this important sector of the population.

So said Roberto Antonio Liebgott, Vice President of the Indigenist Missionary Council (CIMI), organization that protests the rights of indigenous peoples in Brazil.

In a study conducted since 1980 on the actions taken by governments with regard to the marginal status of indigenous peoples, Liebgott was able to corroborate the little progress achieved and neglect in the areas of health, education and indigenous land demarcation.

Other negative points that have marked the last eight years included the violence and criminalization of indigenous protests. Episodes of violence, evictions and invasions have taken place in Bahía, Pernambuco, Maranhão and Mato Grosso do Sul.

The case of the Guarani Kaiowá, who were evicted from their land, persecuted and forced to live alongside a road, was considered to be one of the most significant episodes exhibiting "the lack of interest for indigenous peoples".

Another negative event that marred Lula's administration was the misuse of the indigenous budget, which not only failed to promote effective actions for the physical and cultural survival of the peoples, but also went against the requests made by the 241 indigenous peoples of Brazil.

The health and education sectors were also ignored, since the projects aimed at indigenous peoples were forgotten at the expense of government proposals.

Based on the foregoing, the only thing left for the indigenous peoples and organizations, who defend their rights, is to step up the fight.

"Make demands, take action as a result so that they may become public policies, fight for participation in all stages and pressure public powers in order to put policies into effect for indigenous peoples continue to be the approach," the CIMI Vice President stated.

Time Line

The analysis establishes that there were epidemics and endemic diseases during the government of General Joao Batista Figueiredo (1979 - 1985) that killed dozens of communities and almost wiped out ethnicities such as the Deni. Roads and dams were also built on indigenous land.

During the government of President José Sarney (1985 - 1990), ancestral indigenous territories were increasingly invaded, this time by fishermen, loggers, prospectors searching for precious stones and mining companies.

Some 2,000 indigenous people died from various diseases brought by the nearly 30,000 gemstone seekers that occupied the Yanomami indigenous land during that time.

The government of Fernando Collor de Mello (1990 - 1992), who demarcated the Yanomami land, followed. This administration homologated 108 indigenous territories.

During the government of Itamar Franco, 20 indigenous territories were also homologated.

Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who was president between 1994 and 2002, was more concerned about indigenous issues. During his two terms, Cardoso homologated 147 indigenous territories.

Lula da Silva took office in 2003 and revived hopes in the popular sectors and ethnic minorities. However, this feeling disappeared over the years because priority demands in the indigenous agenda were not taken into account.

For example, demarcations were not prioritized, as only 88 territories were homologated, and, in some cases, procedures were initiated in previous governments. Hundreds of other demarcation processes have come to a standstill.

According to the academic, Liebgott, of the 988 territories, no action has been taken in 323 cases, while 146 territories are being studied, but have yet to be identified.

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Traducción de Sylvia Fisher para Servindi

Over the last 30 years, the aspirations of the 241 indigenous peoples of Brazil to achieve a decent standard of living have been thwarted because successive governments have neglected this important sector of the population.

So said Roberto Antonio Liebgott, Vice President of the Indigenist Missionary Council (CIMI), organization that protests the rights of indigenous peoples in Brazil.

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