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Survival got involved after Brother Joao Carlos Martinez from Spain, Father Cesar Avellaneda from Colombia and Father Ronildo Franca from Brazil, missionaries on the Raposa Serra do Sol indigenous reserve, were released on 12 January following three days in captivity.
All three had been campaigning for the removal of 7,000 settlers – rice cultivators, farmers and cattle ranchers – working in collusion with local politicians. They were taken hostage when a mob of 200 non-Indian settlers invaded their mission and ransacked a hospital and school catering for the Indian population.
Fiona Watson, Survival campaigns coordinator, said: “The Catholic Church is perceived by the local politicians and rice cultivators as being very active when it comes to the rights of indigenous peoples and they want to stop this.
-Indigenous groups are seen as obstacles to progress – the only areas left with forest cover are those belonging to them.”
And although Brazilian environment minister Marina Silva is pro-indigenous, she is fighting against a rising tide of big business; US food giant Cargill is currently involved in clear-cutting forest for the rapidly growing expansion of the GM soya crop.
Survival is also disappointed with Brazilian president Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva. “At the beginning of his presidency a year ago he talked of indigenous land rights but in terms of delivery nothing has been done,” said Watson.
The pan-indigenous people’s organisation COAIB, who Lula is due to meet early this year, burnt Lula’s manifesto last November.
A spokesman for the Indigenous Council of Roraima said: “Ratification of Raposa Serra do Sol is the barometer measuring the attitude of the Lula government. If it acts now, Indians throughout Brazil will take this as a sign of the government’s commitment to upholding their rights.”
In December Brazil’s minister of justice announced that Lula would ratify the area as a reserve. Although the 3.95 million acres territory has been mapped and demarcated, it still needs that presidential signature promised since 1998.
The collapse of Carillion is only one small part of a larger story of decades of economic mismanagement
Laura McDonald writes that universities should not just be finishing schools for the wealthy or disciplinary institutions churning out docile workers.
A floundering alliance of Blairites is trying to reinvent itself for a Corbynite age. By Tom Costello.
Marienna Pope-Weidemann explains why decades of occupation and oppression have led some people to call Israel an apartheid state.
International Women's Day is set to be marked by strikes from "paid work in offices and factories, or unpaid domestic work in homes, communities and bedrooms."
Laurie Laybourn-Langton writes that measuring the economy is political - and economic measurement dominates politics.
David Scott argues that our prison system represents a human rights disaster, and reformist solutions can't tackle the root problems.
A deeper engagement with culture can strengthen our democracy, taking political projects beyond electoral impact and festival memes into a whole new world of radical, lasting change.
Ruth Tanner writes that revelations about Oxfam's behaviour in Haiti are shocking, but not surprising.
The actions of Oxfam officials are horrendous - but gutting foreign aid funding just puts more people at risk, writes Daniel Gibson.
For All, By All
The latest issue of Red Pepper asks - how do we invite, support and nurture greater public participation so that our cultural capabilities are empowered beyond the crushing logic of market fundamentalism?
‘We are hungry in three languages’: The forgotten promise of the Bosnian Spring
Ruth Tanner looks back at a wave of protests which swept through Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2014.
It’s time for a cultural renewal of the left
Andrew Dolan writes that we need to integrate art, music, films and poetry into our movement, creating spaces where political ideas are given further room to breathe.
Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.
Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani
Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week
A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes