Debatable Decree

HARDLY have the Brazilian Indians absorbed the shock brought about by the change to the Decree 22/19, they are confronted by another decree which yet again threatens their ownership of land. Decree 1775 which regulates the demarcation of indigenous lands in Brazil, has found disfavour with the Council for the Articulation of indigenous Peoples and Organisations of Brazil (CAPOIB) and the Forum in Defence of indigenous Rights.

They launched a public campaign on January 17 this year for the revocation of the Decree and also submitted a manifesto to the presidents of the Human Rights Commission and Minorities' Commission. CAPOIB and the Forum hold that "for every piece of land robbed from indigenous peoples and for assassin gunmen hired by landowners, timber companies, mining companies and others", both the President of Brazil, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and the minister of justice, Nelson Jobim are jointly responsible.

Calling the Decree unconstitutional, the Forum and CAPOIB Will hold protest campaigns to focus international attention on the issue. Some 16 invasions of indigenous lands have already been registered since the Decree was signed.