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Mining of building materials and quarry threats indigenous Pitaguary, Brazil


Description

The Pitaguary are an indigenous group that inhabits the highlands of the Metropolitan Region of Fortaleza, the capital city of the Ceará State. Their population is of approximately 4400 people. Their economy depends upon communal agricultural practices, breeding of small animals, fruit recollection and fishing. Since 1997, the Pitaguary initiated a process for land demarcation with Brazil’s National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) and, in 2006, the Justice Ministry declared the Pitaguary Indigenous Territory, comprising 1,735 ha. Since the declaration, the Pitaguary have exerted control over the newly created territory. However, it hasn’t yet been recognized by the Presidency of the Republic. This lack of recognition and its proximity to the urban area of Fortaleza make the Pitaguary susceptible to constant pressure by real estate speculators, among other threats. In 2011, Britaboa Ltda., a local mining company, asked for the renewal of their license to exploit crushed stone in a concession contiguous to the Pitaguary demarcated territory. The mine had been inactive for more than 15 years.

Other mining projects in the area have already cause fissures in houses, and dust, which affect animals and crops. The Pitaguary also claim these projects have generated deforestation and respiratory diseases that mostly affect children. They also state that reopening the mine would partly destroy the Pitaguary highlands, threatening both local flora and fauna and degrading the soil. Furthermore, they consider the area in dispute to be a sacred place to connect with their ancestors. Not only they don’t want the quarry to reopen, they also claim this area as part of their territory. Moreover, they claim that the environmental licenses acquired by Britaboa Ltda. didn’t follow the Law. First, because they have been granted by the Ceará’s State Superintendence for Environment (SEMACE) while only Brazil’s National Institute for Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) can decide on projects with relevant impact. Second, they demand a Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) under the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples.   Since 2011, the Pitaguary have organised several actions against Britaboa’s intentions to restart exploitation. The first, only a couple months after the company announced its intentions, was a day of protest in front of IBAMA and SEMACE offices. Workers of FUNAI’s regional administration accompanied them during the initiative. At that time, they managed to talk with both superintendents – at IBAMA and SENACE – and expose their worries. In the following months, the Pitaguary started organising to face the threat of the quarry’s reopening and put pressure on different institutions. This ended up with FUNAI’s and the attorney general’s representatives visiting the quarry and realizing several irregularities in licensing.

The authorities fined Britaboa Ltda. and, as a result, the local manager started a campaign of intimidation. Some people claimed they have received unexpected visits by local police bringing notes from the company and that suspicious cars started circulation in indigenous territory without permission. They also stated some people fired shots in the area, which caused some apprehension in the communities. An indigenous group tried to speak with the company’s representatives but these were aggressive and even made death threats. Hence, the Pitaguary decided to occupy the quarry on November 2011.  Since the occupation of the quarry, the Pitaguary organised a series of events to discuss the recognition of their land. In May 2012, they called a general assembly to build strategies to guarantee the protection of their territory. In early 2013, the courts decided in favour of the company and determined that the occupants had 45 to leave the quarry. As a result, the Pitaguary intensified their struggle and blocked a main road close to the indigenous territory. Other indigenous groups from Ceará, university students and members of the Landless Worker’s Movement (MST) accompanied them in solidarity. At this occasion, the regional coordinator of FUNAI informed the present that the SEMACE had decided to wait for FUNAI’s approval before renovating Britaboa’s license. The company’s lawyers insist Britaboa’s mining operations would be carried outside the indigenous land, but the Pitaguary insist they will stay and defend it as part of their territory, their memory and cultural heritage.

Basic Data

NameMining of building materials and quarry threats indigenous Pitaguary, Brazil
CountryBrazil
ProvinceCeará
Site Maracanaú and Pacatuba
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level

Source of Conflict

Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)
Specific CommoditiesLand
crushed stone
Sand, gravel

Project Details and Actors

Project Area (in hectares)1,735
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population4,400
Start Date09/2011
Company Names or State Enterprises Britaboa Ltda from Brazil
Relevant government actorsFundação Nacional do Índio (Funai);Superintendência Estadual do Meio Ambiente do Ceará (Semace); Conselho Nacional do Meio Ambiente do Ceará (CONAMA);Ceará’s State Superintendence for Environment (SEMACE); Brazil’s National Institute for Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA);
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersMovimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais sem Terra (MST). (Landless Worker’s Movement); other indigenous groups from Ceará: Tapeba, Tabajara, Jenipapo-Kanindé and Tupinambá, Students.

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Land demarcation

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination
Otherrespiratory diseases related with dust and air pollution due to the extraction of building materials. Specific impacts on children.
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights
Potential: Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures

Outcome

Project StatusUnknown
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (failure for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
Application of international regulation (ILO 169)
Development of AlternativesContinue with their livelihoods: communal agricultural practices, breeding of small animals, fruit recollection and fishing.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.In early 2013, the courts decided in favour of the company. However after the intensification of the Pitaguary, the regional coordinator of FUNAI informed the present that the SEMACE had decided to wait for FUNAI’s approval before renovating Britaboa’s license. No more information about the status of the project has been found.

Sources and Materials

Legislations

International Labour Organization’s (ILO) convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples.

References

Reabertura de uma pedreira ameaça território dos índios Pitaguary no Ceará
http://verbetes.cetem.gov.br/verbetes/ExibeVerbete.aspx?verid=214

Links

Mapa Fiocruz "Pedreira da Empresa Britaboa ameaça índios Pitaguary em Fortaleza"
http://www.conflitoambiental.icict.fiocruz.br/index.php?cod=431

Pitaguarys protestam contra reativação de pedreira
http://www20.opovo.com.br/app/opovo/ceara/2013/03/22/noticiasjornalceara,3026540/pitaguarys-protestam-contra-reativacao-de-pedreira.shtml

Ocupação Pitaguary: SEMACE suspende processo de emissão de licença à mineradora
http://indiosnonordeste.com.br/2013/03/21/ocupacao-pitaguary-semace-suspende-processo-de-emissao-de-licenca-a-mineradora/

Índios reivindicam direito de terra em Pacatuba
http://tribunadoceara.uol.com.br/noticias/ceara/indios-reivindicam-direito-de-terra-em-pacatuba/

Media Links

CARTA DOS PITAGUARY A SOCIEDADE CEARENSE
http://atituderevolucionaria.blogspot.com.es/2013/03/carta-dos-pitaguary-sociedade-cearense.html

Other Documents

Indigenous Pitaguary
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/504801.jpg

Meta Information

ContributorENVJustice Project
Last update05/10/2017

Images

 

Indigenous Pitaguary