In Focus

 
Published: Wednesday 31 January 1996

In Brazil, the feud over Decree 22/91 continues to dog the Yanomami and other indigenous peoples. S A Agropecuaria e lmoveis, an influential mining company, has now requested that the injunction it filed against the Decree at the Supreme Federal Court should continue to be judged. The judgement has been hanging fire in deference to mounting international pressure and widespread protests in Brazil. Observers say that the company is trying to buy time till the pressure dies down, and then push for a favourable decision. The Federal Court, on December 13, referred the case to the new Attorney General, Geraldo Brindeiro, to seek his opinion on the constitutionality of the Decree. This would come about only in February or March this year, after the vacation of the courts.

The company says the Decree is unconstitutional, as it does not provide for the adversary system which benefits invaders of Indian lands in demarcation procedures. It is protesting against the demarcation of the Sete Cerros Indian area of the Guarani-Kaiowa Indians in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, comprising of 3645 ha. Incidence of suicides in this tribe due to acute poverty has reached epidemic levels.

Meanwhile, Brazil's minister of justice, Nelson Jobim, signed on December 11 an administrative decree which authorised the demarcation of the Panambizino reservation in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. The reservation has been expanded from 60 to 1,240 ha. It is feared that opposition from the farmers, against the demarcation, could lead to possible bloodshed. Earlier, Jobim, who has favoured the amendments to the Decree, had been accused of being a spokesperson of the international mining lobby. Aware of this, the pressure groups are intensifying their agitation and efforts at mobilising international opinion.

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