United States. Congress. House. Committee on Forei.

Indigenous peoples and the natural environment of Brazil : hearing before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, second session, May 10, 1994 online

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requests. We believe that you have taken an importamt step in calling on Mr.
Shattuck to testify on these issues, and ensuring that our Department of
State gives these concerns due attention and priority is another Important

This hearing Is an important contribution to the International dialogue on
these Issues, but it is only a beginning. Many policy makers in Latin America
have very little accurate information about North American Indians and
Alaska Natives, and at root suspect that if they ignore indigenous people long
enough they will go away. They need to understand that here in the largest
industrial nation in the world, the Indians have not gone away, and their
problems continue to be national problems. They need to understand that the
US has paid a very high price, in human suffering, in public funds, in wasted
human resources, for our policy failures. The upcoming Summit of the
Americas is an excellent opportunity for our government, not to lecture Latin
America, but to demonstrate the Importance we place on the issue by inviting
representatives of US Indian nations to explain their situation. How, after all,
can we address economic development in the hemisphere without addressing
the state of the 40 million poorest people in the hemisphere? How can we
discuss good governance without talking with those with least political
representation? How can we act to stop the loss of biodiversity- -probably the


most Important environmental Issue In our hemisphere today - without talking
to those whose land everywhere coincides with the remaining repositories of
biological diversity? If the US is to be a leader on indigenous peoples rights in
the hemisphere, we must set the example of participation and frank
discussion here. The recent White House meeting with American Indian and
Alaska Native leaders, and the subsequent Listening Conference, were
important benchmarks. Perhaps this subcommittee can see that this kind of
attention to indigenous peoples" concerns is reflected in the agenda for the
Summit of the Americas. - •

Mr. Chairman, you will hear from Davi Yanomami and Marta Guarani about
the effects of gold mining and other environmentally destructive land uses in
their areas. I want to touch briefly on the timber trade, because this is an area
where both our consumption, and our example, have direct effects on
deforestation world-v.ade. EDF will soon be releasing a report on timber
consumption in the US and global deforestation, which discusses some of the
ways that our enormous market for forest products can begin to create
incentives for sustainabilit\' instead of for destruction. In the Amazon, in
Canada, in Indonesia, as well as here in the United States, the timber trade is
on the cutting edge of devastation. It is opening up the last remaining
forested areas of the world to destruction, and it is a textook case of
unsustainable development, in which a few private actors benefit at enormous


public, and environmental, cost. We can begin to do something about this,
first of all by moving to rr-^ke Limber pre action sustainable in the US. but
also by giving consumers .le information they need to create incentives in the
market for sustainability. Our report will show that there is great consumer
demand for such information, as well as great interest among retailers.
People and businesses in the US want to know where the wood products they
buy come from and what they are. When they know this, they can begin to
create a real market for sustainably produced Limber and other wood
products. And. when ne US pro\'ides consumers with basic information on
what their options are in the wood market, we will be in a posiLlon to exercise
some international leadership. We strongly encourage you to work with your
colleagues to see that US consumers get the information they need, on the
origin and species of the timber and wood products they buy. as a critical first
step in using the power of the US market to create demand for sustainable
wood production.

Mr. Chairman. I thank you again for the opportunity to speak here, and
especially for having brought together this exceptional group of people to
address the subcommittee.


Haximu: A Proven Case of Genocide

by Davi Kopenawa Yanomami

A statement made to the House Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs U S
Congress Washington DC at 1 00 pm on May 10, 1994.

(The first murder of four inhabitants of Haximu village)

The whites killed the inhabitants of Haximu village The goldmmers live near them The
Indians went to where they were and the whites followed them to kill them The Haximu
men thought they could take a riffle back from the goldminers- But. instead, the
goldmmers followed them and killed four of them. AftenA-ards, they dug a hole m the
ground and buried the bodies Only one of the four was not buried, the body was lost.
The people think that the goldmmers threw it in the river.

(The second murder of fourteen inhabitants of Haximu village)

After exhuming the bodies of their kinsmen and cremating them the inhabitants of Haximu
village went to avenge these deaths They killed one white man And for this reason the
goldmmers attacked them again The villagers did not trust the whites, and they stayed in
the forest although they were not well hidden Consequently, the goldmmers once again
went after them and killed them This occurred m an old Haximu garden The goldmmers
killed many people one man and women and children They mutilated their bodies with
machetes and even tore apart the bodies of the children. The goldmmers thought 'This
will make these people fear us'" This is why they mutilated the corpses. Just thinking of
this I still feel very sad and angry

Then I went to Homoxi village Eight of us went. [Davi and a group of 7 warriors left their
village of Demmi for Homoxi village to participate m the investigation on August 19, 1993 ]
We painted ourselves all black as a sign of revenge But the whites told us that we were
not going there for that, they didn't let us take our bows and arrows (m the helicopter to the
site of the massacre) That is why we couldn't take revenge for the Haximu people If we
had lived close to them, we would have killed those goldmmers

They [the sun/ivors of Haximu] began to prepare for the cremation of the people who were
murdered there in the encampment at the old garden. First they made two fires In one
they aemated an old woman and her daughter, in the other they cremated the old man
who was killed there Afterwards, they took the remaining bones, pounded them and filled
gourds with the ashes They earned the other bodies to another encampment nearby
There they made another six or eight aemation fires. After completing these cremations
they fled They really fled They went to another region They arrived at the village of the
Thomekoshibi then they went on to the village of the Maamabi From there they arnved in
our forest, called Toototobi When they arrived, I was advised by radio and I went there.
Later officials from FUNAI and the federal police arrived We went there to find out what
happened We asked, "How many died''" The survivors told us everything just as it
happened The whites have put this story just as it was told into a document


The gourds filled with ashes (in the baskets) are as numerous as the people that were
killed by the whites There are adults, women and children This is why we are all m
mourning I am sad and angry because the goldminers killed and mutilated these people
They were destroying our forest and us as well These are the words that I want to give to
you In this way you can fix them on sheets of paper.

The inhabitants of Haximu community will be avenged eventually They will be avenged
by the spirits of the shamans When the whites will have gotten rid of all of us through
epidemics or gunshots, then those spirits will avenge us The children or the whites and
their women will also die The old people will also die. The shamanic spints will consume
them all in turn Omam [the Yanomami mythological creator] will consume them The
whites think that this is not so But they deceive themselves. Eventually these deaths will
be avenged If all the Yanomami die, the spints of their souls will attack the whites They
will make them fall ill This is what you, white people, should think about. You are all still
we!l because there are still shamans living, like me. These shamans keep the angry
spints of the Yanomami dead under control. You think that you are out of danger, but
that's not how it is

We cry; we are sad and angry But, despite this, our thoughts are calm Someday we will
have our revenge The shamanic spirits will avenge us The responsibility for these
people who were murdered (in Haximu) is in Brasilia. The goldminers are like wild pigs
rooting around in the mud. There are people who make them work and have a hard time
in the mud and who make them come back [in our land). But the leaders who command
them will also die

In the future you will hear about them and you will think, "The ghosts of the Yanomami got
their revenge'" You will see this when accidents happen and you will die. These are the
words that I give to you.


Embargoed Until Delivered

'r-r Prepared statement of Marta Silva Vito Guarani

Kaguateca Association for Displaced Indians - Marcjal de Souza

Before the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs

Committee on Foreign Affairs

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C.

>• May 10, 1994

I have come before this tribunal to speak about the life of the
Indians who live in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, in a region
known as the Pantanal. There are nearly 60,000 Indians, of the
Guarani, Nhandeva, Kaiowa, Ofaie-xavante, Guato, Kadiweu,
Quinikinawa, Quaxi, and other nations.

They are courageous and brave Indians, who were able to survive
the violent attacks of our enemies - white men who in their
ambition for land have evicted us. They kill and degrade.

If today the world knows about the beautiful Pantanal (Wetlands)
of Mato Grosso - one of the last ecological reserves of the
planet - it is because we Indians defend and preserve it.

Much Indian blood has run - and still runs - on the ground of
that land. Millions of Indians were killed, and the majority of
the different nations were decimated. But there are still many

survivors. . . , .

The Ofaie-xavante, the people with lips of honey, are a gentle
people who have spent the past 100 years being kicked out of one
place to another. Today they live on the Parana River. The
government has now taken them from their lands, because it will
be flooded in order to build a factory.

The Guato also live there, one of the last Canoeiro tribes left
in the world. They were the first inhabitants of the Pantanal.
Today, they live on the borders of the Paraguai River, in the
city of Corumba, and some on Insua Island, where they wish to
return and live their culture. Their lands are in the process of
demarcation on this island.

The Kadiweu live in Mato Grosso. They are known for the warrior
spirit and for the beauty of their pottery decorated with natural
paints .


The Terena, who were able to survive from their gardens and
planting live in Mato Grosso. They also have problems with the
invasion of their lands.

Now I want to speak of my people: the Guarani Nhandeva and
Kaiowa. There are statistics which show that we are the poorest
and most abandoned peoples in Brazil. We are a people with an
ancient culture, descendants of the people of the Sun. There are
Guarani in all of Brazil, especially in the southern part of the
country. The Guarani are a great indigenous nation which has
been able to survive the conquest, perhaps by their nomadic life.

For the Guarani, the core of resistance is religion. But today
there are many protestant churches which come to our communities
with the same discourse as the Jesuits who came during the
"discovery" of Brazil. They are killing our religion, killing
our culture. Without a cultural identity, our people wanders the
highways and the streets of the cities, drinking, begging, and
being ridiculed by the white society.

I am the niece of Marcal de Souza, who was murdered in 1983, by
gunmen hired by rich land owners. They wanted him to shut up,
because he was denouncing to Brazil and to the world the
disrespect with which we are treated within our own country. In
Brazil, the murder of Indians doesn't shock anymore. Not the
politicians or the government, nor the civil population. There
is a minority concerned with indigenous peoples, and for this, we
need to sensitize the whole world. And that is what we are doing

At the government level, FUNAI [the National Indian Foundation]
is in charge of Indian issues. We also have a chapter in the
Brazilian Constitution. But if we continue dying, suffering, and
living in misery, if we are marginalised, we must ask:

- Why the Chapter in the Constitution?

- Why FUNAI?

The lands of my people were occupied by large land owners, who
have lands that go as far as the eye can see, full of well
treated and well fed cattle. On my land, cattle is worth more
than indians!

Many Indians in Mato Grosso do Sul are leaving their communities
and moving to urban centers. They go to live in the slums, and
little by little they start loosing their cultural identity, and
become "nobodies". In the villages, they live surrounded by
gunmen and by the rancher's cattle. The cattle stomp on their
gardens and tractors knock down their houses. The rivers are
dirty with the waste from the large farms in the region:
pesticides, mercury, etc.


They finished with our forests, they are finishing with what is
left of our savannahs. They killed our birds and our animals.
And they say that we are no longer Indians because we wear

clothes . . .

Over seven thousand Indians are working in the charcoal factories
and in the sugar cane processing pl^irits. They live in a state of
slavery. This is the integration that white society offers us.
But we Indians, the first owners of this land, cannot accept this
humiliating and inhuman integration!

For this reason, young Guarani are killing themselves, they are
searching for the end, hanging themselves. The women from the
community of Jaguapire told me that they will kill their children
and kill themselves afterwards if they try to take their lands
away again. I cannot cross my arms before the massacre of my

It is for them that I am here to tell the world that the Indians
of Brazil do not see land as private property. Land is important
for peoples to survive culturally and in their humanity. To
populate an area is to give human value to a place, to complete a
stage in our evolution.

Therefore, taking away the means to kill the people. For this,
it is necessary to demarcate the indigenous lands in Brazil. It
is necessary to secure the land for our survival.

Land is culture and culture is life for us. Brazil needs to stop
being the nation which least respects its native peoples on the
face of this earth. The true history of the Brazilian Indian
remains to be told.

We have resisted for 400 years. We are not enemies, we want to
live in peace in this country, with enough ground for all: white,
black, and yellow.

Along with me, all the Indians are dreaming of this moment.
Marcal de Souza, Angelo Kreta, Simao Bororo, and so many other
anonymous heroes have shared this dream with us.



Total demarcated lands ; 41,624 hectares.

1. Jaauapjre : demarcated and homologated. The community was
evicted from their lands three times. Two ranchers are
contesting the area.

2. Jarara : demarcated and homologated, but the community was
evicted from their village.

3. sete-Serro ; demarcated and homologated by judicial order.
Two ranchers are contesting the area.

4. Ouassutv ; demarcated and homologated, with the case brought
by ranchers still in court. Cattle remain in the area.

5. Piragua : demarcated and homologated. The Guarani are
occupying the whole area. The government has brought the
case to court, but because these areas are still contested
by ranchers, it is feared that they will win.

6. Serrito : demarcated and homologated, and occupied by the
Guarani. The case brought against them by ranchers remains
in court.





Non-demarcated areas occupied by the Guarani ; 24,240 hectares.
Guarani population; 37,000.



Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy
Assistant Secretary for Environ men taJ and External Affairs

Smithsoniarh Institution

before the

Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs

Committee on Foreign Affajrs

United States House of Representatives

Ma\ 10, 1994


Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to testify on the topic of deforestation
in the Brazilian Amazon. I have been working in the Amazon of Brazil since 1965, first as a
graduate student, and subsequently as someone concerned with both the conservation of
natural resources as well as related science.

It is appropriate to begin first with a brief consideration of the reasons to be
concerned with this topic which may seem very distant from daily life in an American city.
I believe a reason of over\AheIming importance relates to current efforts nationally and
worldwide to engage in truly sustainable development which will not degrade the
fundamental resource base. No rational analysis of sustainable development can ignore the
premise that biologically based development has to be a central element. This is because of
the fundamental trait of living organisms to renew themselves, and because the age of
biotechnology we currently are entering is unveiling a great array of new ways to benefit
from natural resources.

Environmental clean-up benefits from microorganisms with strange metabolisms and
strange appetites capable of removing heavy metals, breaking down aromatic compounds and
even able to break down CFCs (chlorofiuorocarbons - the manmade molecules currently
destroying the ozone layer). This is but one example of ways in which the entire array of
biologically based human enterprises can benefit from biodiversity and generate wealth at the
level of the molecule.

That being the case it behooves everyone to be concerned about biological diversity
and particularly those areas of panicular concentration of biological di\ersity such as the
tropical forests. Of those by far the greatest is the Amazon injoio. Brazil of course has the
greatest share of the Amazon, and plays a critical leadership role as the founder and most
important member of the Amazon Pact. Brazil is the second most important country in
number of mammal species (450), third most important in bird species (1622), first most
important in amphibians (517). fourth most important in reptiles (467). and first most
important in fiowenng plants (55,000).

In the 29 years I have been working in the Brazilian Amazon there has been dramatic
change. Drs. Tucker and Skole will present this information in some detail. I would
highlight the changes in another way. In 1965 the only means of access other than nvers and
air stnps uas the Belem-Brazilia highway. Today, there is the entire TransAmazon highwa\
s\stem as well as the Carajas railroad. In 1965 there were about two ry.illion inhabitants in
the Brazilian Amazon (roughh equivalent to what was then estimated lo be the original
Amenndian population). Today there are thought to be about 17 millior.. Other than those
in the major urban centers sucn as .Manaus and Belem. most of them dc not knou of any
ua\ to make a living except through deforestation. This has senous consequences for
biological diversity as uell as for indigenous peoples as is being addressed separately in these


TTiere is no question that the deforestation rate has improved since the peak years in
the late 19S0s. TTie current estimate is 11,000 square kilometers per year (which Tucker and
Skole estimate at 0.3% per year) or roughly half the peak rale. Tliere are nonetheless
reasons for continued concern. One is that the absolute number of 1 1,000 square kilometers
is not tnviaJ. Another is that the effects of habitat fragmentation make the numbers roughly
three limes worse in terms of conser\ation of biological diversity. The third and most
important is that the deforestation is concentrated in certain areas such as southeastern
Amazonia where for example the last remnant of an important aggregation of species hangs
on in the face of continuing pressure in the Gurupi area.

A further area of concern involves the floodplains or varzea forests, of easy access
from the rivers and attractive for conversion to agriculture and also subject to forestry.
Important reservoirs of biological diversity themselves, they provide critical ecological
support for many Amazon fish species; roughly threequarters of the commercial fish species
depend on floodplain forests for the majority of their food. Clearly a major effort is needed
to develop a landuse plan for the floodplain forests. Improved scientific understanding of
this relationship is needed as well as effective management of the fisheries themselves.

While clearly there has been some improvement, and while the establishment of a
special ministry for the legal Amazon last year is a step in the nght direction, it is noi unfair
to say that the situation continues to dnft. Roughly a million gold miners continue to disrupt
the aquatic ecosystems, mercury pollution is widespread and deforestation continues.

Two key ingredients are needed. One is stronger government involvement and
presence. While the current Brazilian constitution empov.ers the states considerably more
than ever before, there are nonetheless federal agencies and mandates which could be more
effectively pursued. For example, there is scarcely a forestry extension agent in all of
Amazonian Brazil. Demarcation of indigenous lands lags. The rheionc is good, some
actions are good, bui the overall effon still lacks considerable resolve.

The second key ingredient is aggressive pursuit of sustainable development to provide
nondestructise alternatives for all those already in Amazonia. Fish farming is an example.
So are city based activities like the assembly plants of the economic free zone of Manaus.
The latter is probably the major reason the state of Amazonas has relatively little
deforestation The IMAZON project in Para is helping moves toward sustainable forestry.
Any effort thai adds value to what otherwise is only a commodity is also of great
importance. In a particularK interesting project, one group of Kayapo Indians has set aside
some of their forest as a reser\'e for nature tourism, bui i: addition for research that will aid
sustainable use practices. One research topic will focus O' regeneration of mahogany - an
extreme!) valuable species uhich has extremely problematical regeneration after logging.


Of specia] but longer term value is biochemical prospecting in which the profusion of
species are examined for molecules of particular promise for medicinal or other biological
purposes. This is not a one time examination because the definition of what is useful
enlarges and changes. Nations which protect their biological diversity, and organize the
knowledge about it, are attractive to corporations interested \n such molecules. Costa Rica's
National Institute for Biodiversity, INBio, is the best known example and has contractual
arrangements with Merck among others which include an up front "prospecting fee" as well
as royalties from anything that becomes commercial including derivative molecules. The
National Cancer Institute has somewhat similar arrangements with a number of countries. A
number of others inspired by INBio are examining what they might do in this area.

Brazil has long been hampered in this area because of intellectual property rights
issues but is now resolving them. Once that happens Brazil will be in a particularly
encouraging position because of the presence of a number of pharmaceutical companies.
Brazil basically has the potential to be structured vertically all the way from initial
prospecting through testing, product development and ultimately manufacture. All that
depends, however, on being strongly motivated about protecting the basic resource and
promoting interim forms of sustainable development.


statement of
Dr. Compton Tucker
Laboratory for Terrestrial Physics

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Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on ForeiIndigenous peoples and the natural environment of Brazil : hearing before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, second session, May 10, 1994 → online text (page 8 of 14)