Brazilian Indians Free Hostages At Cvrd MinePublished by MAC on 2006-10-18
Brazilian Indians free hostages at CVRD mine
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, (Reuters)
18th October 2006
Indians have released hostages they seized after they rampaged through a northern Brazilian mining town demanding more aid from CVRD, the world's largest iron ore miner, the company said on Wednesday.
Brazil's Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD) said in a statement that 200 Xikrin Indians, armed with bows, arrows and sticks "violently" invaded its installations in Carajas, Para state, on Tuesday.
"The Indians damaged equipment, stole worker's belongings, sacked the restaurant...and took control of radio communications," CVRD said.
CVRD said that 3,000 workers were in Carajas when the Indians attacked. It said the Indians seized the keys to buses, preventing workers from returning home, and held 600 people hostage for about two hours.
"This morning more than 5,000 workers were prevented from entering the industrial area at the start of the shift," CVRD said, adding that operations, including rail transport, were suspended.
Some 12-13 trains per day are normally loaded with iron ore for transport to the port of Ponta da Madeira at Sao Luis in the northeastern state of Maranhao.
It was unclear how many trains had been held up, a CVRD official said. The Carajas mining complex produces 250,000 tonnes of iron ore daily. In 2005, Carajas produced a record 72.5 million tonnes out of CVRD's total iron ore output of around 234 million tonnes. Output at Carajas is due to expand to 100 million tonnes annually.
CVRD said that a judge issued an injunction on Wednesday authorising it to retake possession of its installations.
CVRD said it had no immediate news about the possible impact on copper, manganese and pig iron which are also carried by the railway.
CVRD said it believed that the invasion was aimed at forcing the company to increase the 9 million reais ($4.2 million) aid it gives the Xikrin tribe annually.
"CVRD doesn't accept such illegal action and won't give in to blackmail .. repeatedly practiced by the Xikrin community," CVRD said, adding that it will use all legal means to defend its rights.
It added that it wasn't mining on Indian land and that the invasion could result in its agreement with the Xikrin being canceled.
A spokeswoman at the National Indian Agency (FUNAI) in Brasilia said she had no immediate comment on the Indian action.
In February, Indians from the Guajajara tribe blocked CVRD's railway line from Carajas to Sao Luis and took four CVRD employees hostage to press demands for better public health care. The hostages were freed after two days.
Indians also temporarily blocked a CVRD iron ore export railway line in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais in December 2005 after another group of Indians invaded a town near Carajas the previous month, threatening to stop output.