I: News from Brazil, No. 392

-----Messaggio Originale-----
Da: "SEJUP" <sejup1 at ax.apc.org>
Newsgroup: misc.activism.progressive
Data invio: sabato 25 marzo 2000 8.12
Oggetto: News from Brazil, No. 392

NEWS FROM BRAZIL supplied by SEJUP (Servico Brasileiro de Justica e Paz).
Number 392, March 24, 2000.
Visit our home page: http://www.oneworld.org/sejup/

In this week's issue:

- New measures to be taken to combat violence
- Statistics for International Day of the Woman
- President to announce new minimum wage
- The wounded of the Massacre at Eldorado do Carajas fight for medical
attention and damages
- German navigator crosses the Atlantic on raft in support of indigenous
in Brazil

- Stories from the periphery
by Michelle Myers


- New measures to be taken to combat violence

The Minister for Justice, Jose Carlos Dias, had a meeting with the
media to announce new methods against violence. The minister said
that to combat crime we need to train the military and civil police,
and create a "national observatory of public security" and intensify
the fight against the use of arms. The minister presented very few
new suggestions; in fact, what he proposed is what every Brazilian
has been saying.  The minister, however, made one new suggestion
- the construction of minimum security prisons.  Studies by Iland
show that 45% of detained Brazilians who complete their sentence
return to crime. In prisons of minimum security, the number of
prisoners who return to crime falls to 12%. The government has made
available US$75 million for the immediate construction of at least
70 prisons based on the minimum security model. Of the 204,000
prisoners, 60% are arrested for minor crimes.  The average cost
per month per prisoner is US$350, or about one billion per year on
the prison system.  The Minister of Justices plans to build prisons
of minimum security for 50,000 prisoners.  The average cost per
month per prisoner in the new prison will be US$150.

(Interesting fact:  World prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants: Mexico
has 108, Colombia 110, Venezuela 113, Brazil 122, Chile 173, and
the United States, 750)

Source: Veja February 23, 2000

- Statistics for International Day of the Woman

One quarter of the world's population lives in extreme poverty.
They live on less than one dollar per day, and seventy percent of
these  are women.  Here in Brasil, women earn 60% of what men make,
and black women earn 30%.  Women are victims of domestic violence
and rape:  in So Paulo a woman is raped ever 12 minutes and only
an estimated 5% seek assistance. For this and other reasons women
here and across the globe are participating in the March for Women
against Poverty and Violence. Signatures are being gathered and
will be handed into the UN headquarters demanding that all countries
that are members of UN take concrete measures to eliminate poverty
and all forms of violence against women, promote a just distribution
of the wealth, and assuring equality between men and women. In
Brasil the three main demands are land, work and be self-determination.

"The redeeming of the dignity of the woman is happening through
the efforts of women throughout the world. Nevertheless, reality
shows us that the struggle for human dignity and equality of men
and women cannot be accomplished by women alone. It is the
responsibility of all people, men and women.." (from the Lenten
Campaign, 2000)

Source: Panfletagem no dia Internacional da Mulher March 8, 2000

- President to announce new minimum wage

Aecio Neves, the leader of the PSDB party, announced today that
the government will raise the minimum wage for the country.  The
new minimum wage will be US$75 a month for public servants and
retired persons, and workers in the private sector.  Opposition
parties are upset with this very minimal increase (only a US$7
increase).  They are calling forth public demonstrations in the
whole country: "We have to take it to the streets in order to wake
up the Congress," said the vice-president of the Workers' Party,
Jose Genoino.

Source: Linha Aberta March 22, 2000

- The wounded of the Massacre at Eldorado do Carajas fight for
medical attention and damages

The massacre at Eldorado do Carajas, which happened on April 17,
1996, besides leaving 20 dead, also left another 68 wounded.  They
are now seeking help from the state of Para to help pay for long-term
medical problems they received from the incident.  This side of
the story has been ignored up until now.  Those wounded need serious
medical attention.  The MST (Movement of rural workers Without
Land) of Para is asking for repayment for five people who had to
be sent to Sao Paulo for medical attention, medical treatment for
another 63 wounded, help for the widows and their children left
behind after the massacre, and medicines needed for the ongoing
treatment of the wounded.  The MST is asking that people and entities
continue to put pressure on the state government of Para not only
to try and punish those guilty for the massacre, but also that the
state keep its obligations to those who were affected by the tragedy.
(For more information on the massacre, visit our website and look
in past issues of News from Brazil.)

Source:  Linha Aberta March 22, 2000

- German navigator crosses the Atlantic on raft in support of
indigenous in Brazil

After a 43-day journey aboard a fragile raft-like sailing boat,
German navigator and human-rights activist Rudiger Nehberg arrived
in Fortaleza (state of Cear) on March 4 after setting sail for
Brazil in Mauritania, on the African coast. He was received by
representatives of the Tabeba, Trememb, Pitaguary and Genipapo-Kanind
indigenous peoples, who gave him a document reporting the reality
of indigenous peoples in Cear. The goal of the trip is to take
advantage of the date marking the 500 years of Brazil's colonization
to raise the awareness of the international community to the reality
of indigenous and Afro-Brazilian peoples and of other groups that
have been marginalized from the Brazilian society. Rudiger Nehgerg
is a member of the non-governmental organization Gesellschaft
Frbedrohte Vlker - GFBV (Association for the Defense of Threatened
Peoples), which is headquartered in Germany and has regional offices
in several European countries.  At a press conference in Fortaleza,
Nehberg apologized for the huge destruction of human beings, their
cultures and nature promoted by Europeans after the "discovery,"
which we should keep in mind as a warning.  The German navigator
took advantage of his stay in Cear to visit the Tapeba and Pitaguary
villages.  It is the second time that Nehberg sails in defense of
indigenous communities in Brazil. In 1992, he crossed the Atlantic
aboard a bamboo raft to draw the attention of the international
community to the situation of the Yanomami, who had suffered a
massacre promoted by miners.  Next week, Rudiger Nehberg will be
in Braslia to show his boat and deliver documents about human rights
to the National Congress and the president of the Republic.

Source: Cimi March 9, 2000


- Stories from the periphery by Michelle Myers

When I asked Jos Felix why so many Northeasterns come  to So o
Paulo, he took a slow drag on his cigarette, bounced his 7 year
old son on his knee and looked out over the valley of shacks that
make up Jardim Paran.  "I came here from Alagoas when I was 19.
I had already been working, doing cabinet-making,  for a long time
in other cities in the Northeast - Salvador, Bahia,  Maceio, Alagoas,
and others."  He went on to explain that every Northeastern is
always in search of the better life, the better salary -- even if
it means leaving their families and culture.  Felix gave me a tiny
smile, "Most of them don't even find work."

Jardim Paran is a place where people end up, a place where citizenship
is an untouchable concept, and a place where creativity is a must
for survival.  The Society of Friends of Jardim Paran is a small
group of residents who are struggling to buy and legalize the land
on which the community is squatting.  Claudio, Antonio, and Joo
all work at night and work for the community during the day.
Juscelino, Marlucia and Rosa are extremely involved in the organizing
while at the same time running their households and caring for
their children.  The community sits on steep hills, some of which
cut into a state nature reserve.  In the rains of January and
February it was at times impossible for residents to go to school
or work because of the mud.  There are no paved roads, but one is
being built.  There is no incorporated city lighting, but the
process of installing electrical posts is now being started.  Even
though thousands of people are living on these hills, the city has
not acknowledged their presence for the past 6 years.  Finally,
with the struggles of the Society Friends of Jardim Paran, the
community is gaining much needed attention.

Marlucia, who is originally from Bahia and who sought housing in
Jardim Paran after leaving an abusive relationship, told me, "We
want to improve our neighborhood so that people in this city and
the people who live here believe in change for the better."  Joo,
one of the very few So Paulo natives living in the settlement,
chimed in, "We want our neighborhood to be celebrated and admired
in the future."  Their hope and work is inspiring in this northwest
periphery of So Paulo -- Brasilndia which is often referred to as
a war zone by the media and the residents themselves.

Rosa, one of the community's leaders, is currently staying at a
friends house because her wooden shack had to be destroyed in order
to start work on the new road for the community.  However, this is
not a new experience for Rosa who is originally from Pernambuco.
Rosa left a physically abusive husband with four children and
considers herself "victorious" in life because, "Many women who
leave their husbands have to abandon their children.  Thank God
that I haven't had to depend on their father and I've been able to
raise my children who are now good citizens."  Rosa not only brought
her own 4 children to So Paulo, but her 2 stepchildren from her
husband's previous marriage, "He never looked after the kids and
was always drinking, so I couldn't leave them there to starve."
Their first 15 days in So Paulo were spent on the balcony of a
friend's house before Rosa found a room to rent.  Working at
factories, cleaning houses, and giving manicures, Rosa still wasn't
able to make the rent and had to return to the northeast to live
with her father.  After 10 months, her father died and Rosa found
herself on the long journey back to the city and in 2 months found
out about Jardim Paran.  "I talked with God a lot because I didn't
want to raise my kids in So Paulo because of the violence.  I didn't
want to live here, but I knew that God would give me direction."

Many of the women of Jardim Paran have a story similar to Rosa's
-- and a faith in a God that will bring them a better life.  Dona
Neusa, from Bahia had two years of schooling, then worked in the
fields with her father and siblings.   Neusa, who cares for her
two teenage children and an 11 year old nephew,  told me how she
worked on a large landowners estate as a maid.  She was paid next
to nothing and sexually abused by the landowner and his sons, so
she jumped at the chance to move to So Paulo when her sister and
husband invited her to come with them.  "It was never what I wanted
to live here, but it was impossible to survive there.  I hope that
Jardim Paran will be a success, that the violence stops, and that
God works in the hearts of all of us.  We have already overcome so
much, we are practically legalized.  I hope that our neighborhood
will have the love of God, friendship.  With union and love we'll
make it."

(Michelle Myers, a Maryknoll missioner, lives and works on the
periphery of the city of Sao Paulo.)

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