Brazil Campaign Pays Attention to Indigenous Peoples

ROME, FEB. 18, 2002 ( The Brazilian bishops´ conference launched a Lenten Fraternity Campaign, which this year is dedicated to indigenous peoples.

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The theme of the campaign, “For a Land Free of Evils,” alludes to the Guarani myth of a promised land. The campaign aims to focus on the cultural wealth of these peoples.

According to the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI), a nongovernmental organization connected to the bishops´ conference, there are more than 500,000 Indians in Brazil today, members of 225 ethnic groups, speaking 180 languages.

In 1972, when CIMI was created, there were only 180,000 Indians recognized as such. Since then, at the end of the dictatorship and the emergence of a large network of citizens´ movements, the indigenous population has grown and been more recognized.

The work of CIMI and other nongovernmental organizations has enabled 65 new ethnic groups to reaffirm their Indian cultural identity and the government to recognize 236 Indian lands. Under the Brazilian Constitution, Indian lands belong to the republic but are at the disposal of the indigenous ethnic groups.

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