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Brazil Court Creates Hermit Zone

March 8, 1999

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ A Brazilian court has created a 37-square-mile reservation in the Amazon to safeguard an Indian hermit who lives there, reported the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper Sunday.

Brazil issued the order to protect the man, who is in his 30s, from loggers, ranchers, farmers and others who occupy the Amazon, the daily quoted government officials as saying.

Brazil often creates reservations for the country’s 320,000 Indians and 180 tribes to prevent others from destroying the Amazon’s natural habitat and spreading simple diseases, like colds and flu, that are often fatal to tribesmen.

Marcelo dos Santos, head of the government agency Guapore Contact Front, was quoted as saying that a team approached the tribesman last August but he kept silent, refused gifts and fired an arrow at them.

``We don’t know what language he talks and it’s difficult to define what (Indian) group he comes from,″ he was quoted as saying.

The court’s protection order prohibits any change in the physical appearance of the region, preventing local farmers from using parts of their land, the daily reported.

The forest-covered region is in the state of Rondonia, some 2,000 miles northwest of Rio.

The farmers have branded the court order ``absurd″ and will seek an order to overturn it, the daily said. One farmer alleged the agency had ``planted″ the Indian in the region to attract money from abroad.

``I don’t know exactly how this farce has been conjured up but it is a farce,″ the farmer, Denes Gouveia Dalafini, was quoted as saying.

The Guapore Contact Front is a branch of Funai, the government’s Indian affairs bureau, and dedicates itself to finding isolated tribe members in Rondonia state.

The court order was issued last September and lasts until June. The agency will again try to track down and talk to the tribesman and consider whether the region should be a permanent reservation.

Since 1995, President Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s government has created 116 reservations covering 78 million acres. Brazil has 500 reservations in all.

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