By Harald Eraker
-Lorentzen claims in the press that the Indians do not have rights to the land which is owned by Aracruz Celulose?
-The working group in FUNAI, the governments official institution which is responsible for indigenous questions, investigated again the traditional Indian land borders in Comboios, Caieiras Velhas and Pau Brazil, and have in their identification report recommended that an addition of 13 579 hectares be defined as indigenous land. The fact that FUNAI on the 13th of January published its identification report in a public journal means that the state institution formally recognises the Indian land claims
-Lorentzen claims in the press that foreign organisations are behind the international campaign, and that the land dispute is not an issue in Brazil?
-Both the allegations are not correct. The Indians started their fight for land rights by themselves in 1993, when they sent an official letter to the president of FUNAI. The other Brazilian organisations and institutions which supported the land claim include the state government of Espirito Santo, Colatina diocese, the national council of the Brazilian Labour Party and SINTICEL ( workers trade union of Aracruz Celulose ). Together with the commission chosen by the Tupinikims and Guaranis, CIMI co-ordinates the international campaign for the extension and charting of the Tupinikim and Guarani Indian land.
-Lorentzen claims in the press that not so many Indians lived in the area as claimed by the Indians?
-At present there are about 1 500 Indians in the Aracruz district reservation. The working group of FUNAI confirm in its identification report that inhabitants from 13 small villages in addition to the four villages Caiiera Velha, Comboios, Pau Brazil and Ireja had to give way for the eucalyptus plantations The Indians themselves remember that 32 villages had to be vacated. Because of the eucalyptus plantations, at least 50% of the indians abandoned their homes and moved.
-Lorentzen claims that "anthropological studies show that the land that Indians demand were not inhabited when the company got it?"
-We would like to know which anthropological study Lorentzen is referring to. FUNAI's working group is made up of several anthropologist, of which one was the leader of the group. The identification report prepared by the working group is also an anthropological study, because ethno-historical, demographic, sociological, cartographic and territorial studies were carried out in the region where Indians live.
-Lorentzen claims that the Indians do not utilise the land that they control today?
-According to Aracruz Cellulose the Indians should be able to support themselves with the 4 492 hectares that they already have, and therefore there is no reason for Indians to demand more land. The company always stresses that they actively help the Indians to fulfil their goal, because they give financial support to the Indians through NISI. But because of that support the company ignores the fact that the Indians need larger land areas for their cultural and physical survival. To them the Indian territory has a cultural meaning and their land needs are more than for the purpose of practising agriculture. In accordance with indigenous traditions the area should be left alone such that the natural forest can be restored. This traditional economy makes the use of soil and forest for hunting fishing and collecting of forest products. Only 15% of the area which the Indians demand are covered with natural forest. The Indians have therefore begun to consult with university botanists, to find out how the forest can be protected, and how it can be recreated for future generations. Besides, it is important to mention that the biggest existing reservation (Comboisos, which is 2 546 hectares), has soil which has a high rate of acidity and is sandy, which limits the possibility of agricultural activities to certain areas within the reservation.
- Lorentzen claims that the company has taken over and owns the area in good faith, because they have acquired land legally from the lawful owner, based on correct documentation and market price?
-The Brazilian constitution has since 1932 recognised that the land area which traditionally has been used by indigenous people in accordance to their customs and traditions are unalienable and the rights to land area cannot be invalidated. Aracruz Cellulose's land deed is invalid because the indigenous peoples traditional land area cannot be handed over to a third party.
-Lorentzen claims that "the company's concern and support for the Indians in the state of Espirito Santo is significant and consistent"?
-In our opinion, Aracruz Cellulose's concern and support for the Indians is inconsistent because they do not recognise the Indian rights to their traditional land. If the company was really concerned with the Indians, they would respect their rights.
Norwatch Newsletter 5/97