Published: Monday 30 June 1997

The Brazilian acting minister of justice Milton Seligman denied the allegation that the former minister Nelson Jobim had given the instruction that the Raposa/Serra do Sol indigenous area be reduced in exchange for votes in favour of the presidential reelection bill. This denial was seen as an attempt to retrieve the crumbling image of the government accused of several corruption charges. The information which was confirmed in the O Globo newspaper in mid May, had alleged that the deputies wanted the mining villages to be left out of the original demarcation project, thus reducing the area by 10 per cent.

Apparently, the agreement was officialised in December 1996 by Jobim. According to Seligman, the presidential reelection bill was not a major issue during the time of Jobim's visit. The minister said that the government 'could not "simply wipe out villages which grew inside the area of the indigenous reservation". The pro- indigenous peoples lobby attacked this statement as preposterous by pointing out that the government does not have to "wipe out" any home to demarcate any area since the law provides for compensations and that the "homes" in this case are mining villages. The hazards they pose to the indigenous peoples have been consistently denied by the government, it alleged.

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