Indigenous Brazilians asserting their land claims

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Saturday, February 4, 2006

The last few months have seen the number of land conflicts involving indigenous people increase rapidly. Brazil has 400,000 "first people", many of whom express that they need more respect.

Hundreds of Indians occupied eight plots of land last week in an attempt to reclaim what they claim is their property. They were calling themselves victims and they threatened to destroy power lines.

In the southern region of Brazil, around a dozen Indians were injured in a police operation which apparently led to the destruction of two villages on land which is the focus of a legal dispute with the Aracruz Cellulose company.

There have been incidents throughout Brazil. The Amazon jungle in the north, and in the southern state of Catarina where eight Indians were arrested for property invasion and aggression.

The indigenous people have organized themselves over the past three decades. They have become a "political force", said Rubem de Almeida a local anthropologist.

The government of Brazil have been somewhat successful in bringing about improvements which improve the reality for the indigenous communities.

Some of the indigenous people say they can't simply wait for the mainstream; so in April of this year there are major demonstrations planned.