Land Struggle in Brazil



The "Comission for Articulation and Organization of the Tupinikim and Guarani Indians in Espirito Santo State, Brasil" makes the following appeal through CIMI, a Brazilian organization, for efforts to remedy the virtual occupation of their traditional land. The historical background surrounding the seizure of their land is provided as well as details of immediate threats to their land and ecology; notably, the pulp company Aracruz Celulose and its record of replacing native forests with plantations of eucalyptus.


Comission for Articulation and Organization of the Tupinikim and Guarani Indians in Espirito Santo State, Brasil

Aracruz, 27th of May 1996

Dear friends,

The text which we hereby present to you aims to inform you about the problems which we, Tupinikim and Guarani indians, during many years have been facing mainly because of the dificult land situation which we encounter.

By means of the information of the present text we apply for efforts of your organization or your person, to support our struggle in the Espirito Santo State, Brazil. We propose the following activities:

1. Efforts in the countries which consume the production of "Aracruz Celulose S/A". Most important countries are the USA, Belgium, Great Britain and Japan. Other consuming countries are Italy, South Koreia, Thailand, France, China, Argentine, Indonesia, Mexico and recently South Africa.

2. Efforts of organizations which are willing to support our fight in the remaining countries.

3. Efforts in the major foreing shareholder country: Norway.

4. Efforts in Brazil so that pressure will be put on the Company and the Brazilian Government to decide in favor of the indians.

We would like to request your solidarity and collaboration in supporting our struggle in one of the above-mentioned activities. Looking forward to your reply concerning your possible support and/or contribution, On behalf pf the Commission, Jonas do Rosario - Iraja community Jose Luiz Ramos - Caeiras Velhas community Antonio dos Santos - Pau Brasil community Francisco Coutinho - Comboios community Nelson Guarani - Guarani community

Address to be contacted:
Conselho Indigenista Missionario - CIMI Caixa Postal 30
29190-970 - Aracruz - ES - BRAZIL
Phone/fax: 00 55 27 256 23 74


Sinze 1975, the Tupinikim and Guarani Indians, living at the municipality of Aracruz, in Espirito Santo State, have been fighting for the recognition of their rights to occupy their traditional lands. These lands have been given back to the Indians by the Portuguese Crown and guaranteed in writing since the Imperial period in Brasil. Nowadays, the Indians, curtailed on their rights, face misery, the economic power of big companies and omission of the Brazilian government. To ensure their survival, the Indians are fighting for the expansion of the area under their jurisdiction, which presently is occupied by the market pulp company "Aracruz Celulose S/A".

Historical Background

In 1500 - The Tupinikim Indians were encountered by Portuguese explorers at the coastline from Sao Paulo to Southern Bahia. Their population then, was estimated in at least 55 thousand people, occupying an extension of land around 1,000 km. With the beginning of colonization the "domestication" of the Indians took place, with the purpose of establishing the basis and expanding the colonial project of Portugal.

The immediate goal of the Portuguese Crown, was not only the occupation of the territory but as well the "economic development" of the colony. The strategy of the colonial enterprise was the encroachment of indigenous groups in controlled settlements, catechization of the Indians and transformation of them into slave labor. The actions of the Jesuit priests, forbidding traditional ceremonies and dismantling the original tribe arrangements, allowed stronger control over the Indians. The Indians' enslavement, diseases and radical changes on their war habits, ended up weakening the Tupinikim Indians.

Em 1610 - On the 4th of December, a "sesmaria" of land (79,2 km on north-south run) was requested to the Governor of the "Capitania" of Espirito Santo and the Portuguese Crown complied with it. Em 1760 - The piece of the land above mentioned was demarcated through a "Termo de Concerto e Composi
After 1940, the Indians of Aracruz suffered another invasion of their land. Declaring that the forested areas occupied by the Indians belonged to the Union, the Government gave away lumber and charcoal exploitation concessions. The Iron and Steel Company of Vitoria (Companhia Ferro e A
This Guarani Mbya group still maintains the practice of migrating continuously in their search for the "land with no maladies- their paradise". The Guarani keep their costumes and speak Guarani. The few remnant Guarani people survive from game, fishing, crops and handicrafts, dividing the little forest left with the Tupinikim Indians without conflicts.

In the 60s, the SPI was terminated and to replace it, was created the National Indigenous Foundation (Fundacao Nacional do Indio - FUNAI) to support the new governmental goals. This moment is crucial for determining the bad conditions in which the Brazilian Indians live today. The Brazilian Government launched big development projects and the social impact of such initiatives hit directly the Indians. almost all their land, encroached in small back yard properties, making more difficult even more the survival of the group as a whole.

Aracruz Celulose

Presently the problems of the Tupinikim and Guarani Indians are directly related with the market pulp company Aracruz Celulose. According to data from The Bank of National Social Development (Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico Social - BNDES), Aracruz owns 203,000 ha in Espirito Santo. This company received from the State and Federal Governments all sort of incentives. From the State of Espirito Santo's Government they bought 30,000 ha of indigenous land for a symbolic value of 8/10 of cents of a cruzeiro for m2. And acquired from COFAVI a piece of property of 10,000 ha (from that indigenous area taken over by this company back in 1940). The remaining of the indigenous territory occupied by Aracruz Celulose nowadays, was taken by different maneuvers mainly "grilagem" (hiring land buyers who use all sort of violence to grab the land - paying for it or not). displacement of the Indians, declaring that in that area were no Indians.

The native forests were replaced by eucalyptus plantations, jeopardizing the traditional way of living of the Indians. The Indians say that: "Or you would sell your land or they would take it away from you and then you would have nothing. Then the Indians got afraid and started to move away... Aracruz arrived destroying everything. They brought two bulldozers and a big chain, destroying everything ahead of them. We found all sort of animals dead. Then the forests finished, the birds died, and the rivers dried..."

The statements of the Indians, who were present during Aracruz's occupation of the land, illustrate realistically the violence imposed by this company, which as well is responsible for the environment degradation in the region. In 1983, after an intense fight, the Indians got back 4.491,40 ha of their original land (but in discontinuous pieces) and succeeded to have in demarcated by the Government. Since then, the Indians have been distributed into five communities: one Guarani and four Tupinikim. The remnant Indians plantations. Their lands are arid and unproductive, imposing a miserable life to these people. They can not hunt anymore, the rivers are drying and the land does not produce as before.

Ten years later, in 1993, the Indians decided to demand the expansion of their lands, once the indigenous population started to grow again. This proposal was filed with FUNAI, in Brasilia, under number 1632/93. The Indians want their land back, because they depend from it for their survival. The Indians are proposing the restoration of the area destroyed by Aracruz with eucalyptus plantations to original forests, so that they can have game, fish and freedom again.

Unification and expansion of the indigenous lands

Despite the fact that the Indians are facing a process of acculturation, surviving of small crop plantations and selling handicrafts, the Tupinikim and Guarani Indians are being able to get organized. Presently they are fighting for the control of 13,579 ha, which has always been theirs and would allow for their survival. The Indians' proposal for expansion of their present area, is for the unification of the communities of Caieias Velhas and Pau Brasil, which will Comboios community to a total area of 3,800 ha. After establishing a strong network to obtain support for their claim, in the 30th of November of 1993, the Indians succeed to be heard by the Federal deputy Chamber's Commission on Environment and Minorities. That day, the President of FUNAI, established a Working Group (Grupo de Trabalho - GT) to reassess, identify and implement the demarcation of the Tupinikim an Guarani indigenous areas. Under the decree 0783/94 of 30th August 1994, the GT was officially established. This Working Group produced a report, approved by the Indians and which supports the demand of the Indians. All the paper work is concluded and now it is needed to be officially published (Diario Oficial da Uniao).

The publication of the report's conclusions has been suspended, due to a new decree (1775/96) from 8th January of 1996, by the Minister of Justice, which changed the procedures for the official recognition of indigenous territories. This decree open possibilities for Aracruz and others to protest against the demands of the Indians. Indigenous groups of all over Brasil are fighting against this decree and threat that these changes will mean for their survival in the areas traditionally belonging to them. Even recognizing that Aracruz or the Brazilian Government have no interest Indians, they will not give up. The Indians recognize that succeeding to get a report from the Working Group was a first step. Given these facts, the Tupinikim and Guarani Indians are launching an international campaign asking for the support of ngos, indigenous defense groups, personalities and authorities to put pressure on Aracruz Celulose, and over the Brazilian Government to redefine the boundaries of the lands.

You are encouraged to utilize this information for personal campaign use; including writing letters, organizing campaigns and forwarding. All efforts are made to provide accurate, timely pieces; though ultimate responsibility for verifying all information rests with the reader. Check out our Gaia Forest Conservation Archives at URL=
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Subject: In the Beginning

In the Beginning

God Created heaven and the earth. Quickly he was faced with a class action suit for failure to file an environmental impact statement. He was granted a temporary permit for the project, but was stymied with the cease and desist order for the earthly part. Appearing at the hearing, God was asked why he began his earthly project in the first place. He replied that he just liked to be creative.

Then God said, "Let there be light", and immediately the officials demanded to know how the light would be made. Would there be strip mining? What about thermal pollution? God explained that the light would come from a hugh ball of fire. God was granted provisional permission to make light, assuming that no smoke would result from the ball of fire: that he would obtain a building permit; and to conserve energy, would have the light out half the time. God agreed and said he would call the light "Day" and the darkness "Night". Officials replied that they were not interested in semantics.

God said, "Let the earth bring forth green herb and such as many seed". The EPA agreed so long as native seed was used. Then God said, "Let waters bring forth creeping creatures having life; and the fowl that may fly over the earth". Officials pointed out this would require approval from the Department of Game coordinated with the Heavenly Wildlife Federation and the Audubongelic Society.

Everything was O.K. until God saud he wanted to complete the project in Six days. Officials said it would take at least 200 days to review the application and impact statement. After that there would be a public hearing. Then there would be 10-12 months before...

At this point God created Hell.

Subject: BIOD: Ecuador's Amazon Oil Protests



Rainforest Action Network reports on protests by some 300 Ecuadorian citizens agains Ecuadorian Amazon oil exploration, particularly by the Texaco company. This follows recent oil spills and continued large scale damage to the Amazonian ecosystem caused by such oil exploration. This item comes from RAN's list server.

For Immediate Release - June 20, 1996
Press Contact - Mark Westlund:
Shannon Wright:


(QUITO) Protesting oil pollution of the Ecuadorian Amazon over 300 oil workers, Amazonian citizens, farmers, students, and environmentalists marched from the Ecuadorian Congress to the Presidential Palace today. They demanded that Ecuadorian President Sixto Duran Ballen announce his support for the Amazonian peoples and that he work to hold Texaco accountable for its destruction of the Amazon. The protesters marched to pressure their government to support a class action suit in the U.S. Federal Court against Texaco's pollution of the Amazon.

Chanting "Who destroyed the Amazon and who should clean it up? Texaco! Sue Texaco!" the protesters demanded that their government support them rather than the international oil company.

Marchers from the Ecuadorian jungle arrived with photos of the latest spill, caused by antiquated equipment left by Texaco and currently owned by Petroecuador. Local communities calculated that nearly 1,000 barrels of oil spilled several days ago from the same pipeline which they have demanded Texaco upgrade.

"This latest spill only underscores the ongoing destruction in the Amazon and the urgent need for just solutions," said Shannon Wright, Rainforest Action Network's Amazon program director.

In a precedent setting court case, Amazonian peoples filed a $1.5 billion class action suit in the U.S. Federal Court, calling for Texaco to clean the Amazon of their pollution and compensate the Ecuadorian people for its 24 years of devastating operations in Ecuador. This case has gained much more success than legal observers initially predicted.

Before ruling on the U.S. action suit the judge requested clarification of the Ecuadorian government's position of the case, which is expected within the next several days.

Last week, the Ecuadorian Congress unanimously passed a resolution in support of Amazonian plaintiffs. On June 18, however, the President of the National Congress suddenly withdrew his support for the resolution, in effect suspending it. Observers close to the Congress suspect that his reversal is due to severe pressure from Texaco.

Rainforest Action Network works to protect the Earth's rainforests and support their inhabitants through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action.

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You are encouraged to utilize this information for personal campaign use; including writing letters, organizing campaigns and forwarding. All efforts are made to provide accurate, timely pieces; though ultimate responsibility for verifying all information rests with the reader. Check out our Gaia Forest Conservation Archives at URL=

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