The following appeal for urgent action was launched by Joe Higgins TD who is currently visiting Porte Allegre and is involved in a campaign against threatened land evictions.
Imminent eviction ordered for Thursday 20 January 2005
Ninety families, comprising about 400 people from the Kaiowa Indians are facing a brutal eviction from their traditional lands at Cerromarangatu, Matto Grosso do Sul, Brazil.
People right around the world will be familiar with this general area from seeing the film, The Mission. This film portrayed the harsh treatment meted out to the indigenous people by the European invaders and shocked and angered millions. In some ways things have not changed.
In 1988 these Kaiowa families occupied a 26-hectare area of land. In 1999 the Federal Government of Brazil sent a research group led by an anthropologist to carry out a survey. This group declared the lands in question as belonging to the Kaiowa.
In 2004 the Minister for Justice ordered the demarcation of the Kaiowa lands and demarcation posts were placed.
However, the President of Brazil Luis Ignacio da Silva must sign the final Land Transfer Document according to Brazilian law. He has not done this so far.
Because the original plot of 26 hectares was completely insufficient for the 90 Indian families, they themselves were forced to move into part of their designated lands to sow crops for food.
The Indians have sown manioc, beans, potatoes and rice and bananas, managing with great sacrifice to get resources to buy the seeds. These crops are now growing.
Now, however, a federal judge has issued an order to the families to leave their lands and Thursday, January 20th, 2005 has been set as eviction day by the Federal Police. This also means the destruction of their crops. The Kaiowa are desperate. They have waited too long while their lands were colonised. They have nowhere to go. Many Kaiowa/ Guarani youth in despair at seeing no future have tragically committed suicide.
The families at Cerromarangatu have decided to resist the eviction. They will stay on their land to defend their crops, their livelihoods and the lives of their children.
Please contact the president of Brazil, Senhor da Silva, immediately. Ask him to intervene immediately to halt the threatened eviction. Ask him to sign the legal land transfer document to allow the Kaiowa to stay. (see email the President for details).
A brutal attack on these indigenous families would not only be a further assault on their civil rights but would be condemned around the world and the Government of Brazil and its President would be held responsible.