By Chris Lang (August 2007):
On 28 August 2007, Tarso Genro, Brazil’s Minister of Justice, signed two ministerial decrees acknowleding 18,070 hectares of land in Espirito Santo as belonging to the Tupinikim and Guarani Indigenous Peoples. The Tupinikim and Guarani have been struggling to regain their land from the pulp company Aracruz for many years. Before the decision, 7,061 hectares had been demarcated as indigenous land but the remaining 11,009 hectares was planted with Aracruz’s eucalyptus monocultures.
“By means of this decision, the Brazilian government fulfilled the Brazilian constitution that says that it is the responsiblity of the government to demarcate lands, traditionally occupied by indigenous peoples and necessary for their physical and cultural survival,” comments the Alert against the Green Desert Movement.
The next step is the signing of an agreement between the Indigenous Peoples, Aracruz and the government, including the question of compensation for Aracruz for being forced to leave the 11,009 hectares. While the Tupinikim and Guarani welcome the decision, Aracruz “regrets that the decision of the Minister does not take into consideration the company’s arguments in its response to FUNAI’s opinion favoring demarcation,” according to a statement on the company’s website.
The Ministry’s decision is a rejection of an Aracruz report which claimed that the Tupinikim never lived in the region of Aracruz. The report was produced by 15 anonymous experts, whose names Aracruz declines to release. Aracruz also claimed that the Tupinikim are not Indigenous People, which led to the Federal Court in Linhares, Espirito Santo condemning Aracruz for discriminatory behaviour in December 2006.