The Paresi Tribe (Mato Grosso) want to develop and decide their own destiny without depending on the guardianship of the State
The indigenous issue is one of the most passionate themes because of the emotions it raises among a public unaware of the situation and mindful of Indian freedom, and especially because of the activities of NGOs and various types of interest groups. Ignorance and bad faith are also part of the problem.
According to data from IBGE, the indigenous population in Brazil is made up of approximately 1 million people, with just over 550,000 in rural areas. Note that the issues of urban Indians are of a different nature, as they does not involve requests for land but for health, education, jobs, decent living conditions, and a policy against prejudice. It is a shame that the country is unable to graciously serve such a small contingent of people originally belonging to this land.
From the territorial point of view, the remaining indigenous population occupies around 118 million hectares, corresponding to 14% of the national territory. If we were to follow indigenist NGOs, according to preliminary calculations, the Indians would occupy 24% of the territory. Does that make sense?
Of course, this does not mean that no area demarcations should be made from now on, but that a diagnosis of the situation is made after analyzing each specific tribe. The situation of a lost tribe in the Amazon with no contact with our culture, that of so-called land conflicts in Dourados and Mato Grosso do Sul, and that of the Paresi Indians in Mato Grosso are not the same.
With regard to this Amazon tribe, its territory should obviously be demarcated, as it is essential for its preservation. It does not follow, however, that it should be used as a tool of ideological manipulation as if it served as a parameter for other tribes. Just look at photos issued by national and foreign NGOs to see how they are exploiting the issue!
As far as the situation in the State of Mato Grosso do Sul is concerned, the disputing parties have seemingly legitimate legal claims. The rural producers in this region generally hold centuries-old property deeds granted by the State. Imagine a farmer, after having lived and worked in a certain place for decades, out of the blue being served notice that the land does not belong to him. How so? Must he now be expelled and left to his own devices by a supposedly ‘anthropological certificate’ that makes everything null and void?
Note this is not the purchase or exchange of land through eminent domain of indigenous lands, but sheer expropriation without compensation, as the owner is not compensated for the land, but only for improvements. It is as if the land were not his property and he was a kind of usurper. Farmers around the country would be a family of usurpers!
If there are litigations over rights, the State should, if it were the case, pay for the land so that with the indemnities the farmers could make a settlement lose nothing. This is already established by quilombola legislation, which stipulates that compensation should be paid in cash according to market assessments. In many places, tired of endless disputes, invasions and violence, the owners only seek fair compensation.
The highly controversial case of Dourados is not even about demarcation, as the area is already demarcated. When a territory is demarcated as indigenous, its surroundings are simultaneously defined as non-indigenous. What happens there is a demographic explosion within the demarcated area. Instead of ideological exploitation by NGOs and the like, all they have to do is to purchase the surrounding land at prices commonly agreed with the owners. Many people, however, live from perpetuating conflicts as if they depended on strife to justify their attitudes.
Another entirely different case is that of the Paresi tribe in the State of Mato Grosso, which plants soybean in summer, corn, beans and sunflower in winter. When it comes to freedom of choice, this is a textbook case. These Indians want to decide their own destiny without depending on the State or having to turn to NGOs. They are penalized for demanding to be respected as citizens!
They are Indians who speak for themselves and demand to be treated with the same rights as full-fledged farmers. However, the State tells them they must be protected — as if they did not know what they are talking about, what their interests are, and should thus remain gagged by political correctness!
They want to live from their own work and to get better living conditions for their people. They do not require Family Grants or alms. They want to be able to choose their work and their way of life, and to depend only on themselves. With a population of just over two thousand people, they grow soybeans on ten thousand hectares with modern and mechanized agricultural methods. This year they should gross around 50 million Brazilian reals ($12.3 million) in their two harvests. Note that this area of cultivation corresponds to only 1.7% of their territory!
They have proactively created a cooperative that allowed the purchase of supplies, to sell their produce, and to make bank contracts in common. However, because they are indigenous and under guardianship, they have difficulties obtaining credit. Isn’t that bizarre?
In addition, they were fined more than 140 million Brazilian reals for failing to obtain authorization to plant a monoculture for commercialization and for leasing land to other people of the same ethnic group. Yet another capital sin, they plant transgenic seeds! In other words, their great sin is to have exercised their freedom like any Brazilian.
If there are legal issues involved, the solution is very simple: Just draw up new legislation in the spirit of this new era of freedom!
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