Fatal change

IT IS obvious that for the Brazilian government, people's rights do not matter. Why else would they - in spite of vociferous local protests and campaigns by several agencies in favour of the indigenous Indians - go ahead and bring about the change to the controversial Decree 22/91, which could very well serve to spell doom for the local tribal populace (Down to Earth, Vol 4, No 14)?

While the move, announced on January 8, could help further the interests of the mining lobby, it has received widespread criticism from the Catholic Indian Missionary Council (CIMI), the Brazilian Church agency for indigenous affairs. It says that the action was a direct attack on the constitutional rights of the people and also a violent act of disregard for protests by indigenous peoples. The change includes the introduction of the right of challenge to the declaration of an indigenous reserve, which benefits the invaders of these areas and also provides for the review of the boundaries of some areas. The list of 17 areas under the protected area status does not include those areas which are an object of political pressure like the Raposa / Serra do Sol in Roraima.