Indians – 'Lula’s government is bad for us'

Five hundred and fifty leaders from eighty-six Brazilian tribes have written an open letter slamming President Lula's government's record on indigenous peoples.

The Indians from the eighty-six tribes spent three days last week camped on Brasília's Avenue of Ministries. Indian organisations have declared this month ‘Indigenous April' in order to highlight their concerns.

The Indian leaders slam the Lula government's indigenous policy as ‘retrograde.' They continue, ‘The few advances have been won by our peoples and organisations through pressure and struggle and with some of our relatives sacrificing their lives.'

The Indian leaders complain that the government's attitude is patronising, and that it treats the demarcation of their lands as a benefit rather than a right. The government's progress in recognising indigenous land has been extremely slow: of fourteen priority cases identified in April 2005, only one has been completed.

The Indians also draw attention to the worsening state of health among indigenous peoples in the past year following changes to the structure of health care provided by the government.