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Bolsonaro and Funai pressure Kayapós to ask for mining in their lands

Para Apib, teor do encontro estimula conflito entre indígenas

Crédito: Observatório da Mineração

3 Apr 21

Bolsonaro and Funai pressure Kayapós to ask for mining in their lands

According to an audio leaked by the Brazilian Network of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (Apib), a group of Kayapó indigenous leaders from the south of Pará were encouraged to press for mining on their lands in a meeting that brought together President Jair Bolsonaro, the head of Funai [Brazilian National Indigenous Peoples Foundation], Marcelo Xavier, and the logger João Gesse. The meeting, which was not on Bolsonaro’s official agenda, was scheduled with the objective of “finding sustainable solutions” for the indigenous peoples.

In the audio, confirmed as trustworthy by the Mining Observatory, Gesse attacks NGOs and says he “wants to help”, in a threatening tone. “We are involving the president of the Republic, wanting to help, ministers, and I have to listen to this litany about cooperatives? The patience is over. Do you want to stay with NGOs? Fine, stay with these damned NGOs, but remember: you live in Brazil. General [and Vice President] Mourão, the Army, the Federal Police, are going to be on top of them,” he said. The cooperative mentioned by the logger, of which he was one of the articulators, is Kayapó Ltda., which aims at the “agro-industrial exploitation” and exploitation of the mineral resources of the Kayapó Reserve, a target of criticism from chiefs and leaders of the region. According to Apib, the logger is angry because, allegedly, indigenous people are being pressured to take a position against mining activities in the region by NGOs.

Gesse confirmed the audio and said that the president of Funai consulted him with the intention of taking the cooperative model to other indigenous peoples. Bolsonaro, on the other hand, said in the meeting “we did what we had to do”, in reference to the forwarding of the bill 191/2020, which authorizes mining within indigenous lands, in addition to stating that “the indigenous who want to work with mining have to pressure their politicians.”

Survey says that indigenous territories don’t concentrate fire hotspots, denying Bolsonaro’s claims

Report reaffirms indigenous peoples role in forest conservation

Credit: Marizilda Cruppe/Greenpeace

30 Mar 21

Survey says that indigenous territories don’t concentrate fire hotspots, denying Bolsonaro’s claims

A study by the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) indicates that, between January and December 2020, only 3% of deforestation and 8% of fire hotspots occurred on indigenous lands. The data denies, once again, the systematic attacks by Bolsonaro and government representatives against the native peoples and communities, who point them out as responsible for the destruction of the forest.

Topping the ranking of the most deforested land categories are undesignated public forests (32%), followed by private properties (24%), and settlements (22%). Together, the three categories concentrate 68% of the hotspots identified in the period, according to data from Inpe used in the survey.

The technical note analyzes the dynamics of deforestation and fire in indigenous lands (ITs) in the Amazon between 2016 and 2020 and denounces the increasing devastation of these territories by the advance of land grabbers and non-indigenous invaders. The text highlights the role of the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR) as a tool for land grabbing in Indigenous Lands: in four years, there was a 75% increase in the number of self-declaratory registrations of rural properties in these territories.

Illegal gold digging rises 30% in Yanomami Indigenous Land during the pandemic

The area destructed is equivalent to 500 soccer fields, study says

Credit: Chico Batata/Greenpeace

25 Mar 21

Illegal gold digging rises 30% in Yanomami Indigenous Land during the pandemic

Weeks after the Federal Public Prosecution issued an order forcing government officials to remove illegal gold diggers from the Yanomami Indigenous Land (TIY), a new study shows that illegal mining grew in the territory during the pandemic. From January to December 2020, gold diggers destroyed five hundred hectares of forest in the indigenous land, a 30% increase over the previous year.

“Scars in the forest: evolution of illegal mining in the Yanomami Indigenous Land in 2020,” released by the Hutukara Yanomami Association (HAY) and Wanasseduume Ye’kwana Association (Seduume), denounces not only the environmental devastationa nd the risk of conflicts with indigenous people promoted by the gold diggers, but also the impact of the activity on the health of the Yanomami, by acting as a vector of malaria and Covid-19 contamination, threatening, above all, isolated peoples.

“To malaria and other infectious diseases was added COVID-19, transmitted directly by gold diggers that continued to walk freely in TIY. 949 cases of the disease were recorded until October 2020, with a strong incidence in the Waikás (26.9% of the population), Kayanau (9.5%)”, says the study.

Court orders the removal of illegal gold diggers in Yanomami Indigenous Land under R$ 1 million per day fine

Decision criticizes federal government’s omission

Credit: Chico Batata/Greenpeace

17 Mar 21

Court orders the removal of illegal gold diggers in Yanomami Indigenous Land under R$ 1 million per day fine

The 2nd Federal Court of Roraima, at the request of the Federal Public Prosecution Office, ordered the federal government to present a plan for the removal of illegal gold diggers from the Yanomami Indigenous Land within 10 days under penalty of a daily fine of R$ 1 million reais. The judge reinforced the omission of the government.

In addition to the trail of rights violations left by illegal mining, in the context of the pandemic, the Yanomamis have been denouncing the invasion of miners since last year as a serious vector of Covid-19 transmission. The arrival of these criminals has led to an explosion in the number of cases of the disease among the population, including the deaths of babies.

Federal Public Prosecution asks federal agents to fight gold diggers in the Munduruku territory

After Salles visited the land, in 2020, the inspections were halted

Credit: Instituto Socioambiental

16 Mar 21

Federal Public Prosecution asks federal agents to fight gold diggers in the Munduruku territory

The Federal Public Prosecution (MPF) asked the government to act to contain illegal gold digging in the Munduruku territory in Jacareacanga, in the state of Pará. According to reports from leaders, the invasions have been increasing since March 14th, with the entry of heavy machinery in the area. In documents sent to the Federal Police, the MPF requested urgent measures to fight the invaders. “There is an imminent risk of conflict within the Munduruku indigenous land, due to the articulation of the indigenous people who are opposed to illegal mining and could directly fight the entry of machinery,” says the decision.

The agency has been investigating the advance of gold diggers in the region since last year. In August 2020, Ibama carried out an inspection action in the territory, interrupted after a surprise visit by the Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles. According to the MPF, “the circumstances of the interruption included suspicions of leakage of classified information and transport of miners in aircraft of the Brazilian Air Force (FAB)” and are being investigated. At the time, the Munduruku leader Ademir Kaba Munduruku, coordinator of the Munduruku DA’UK Association, said he suspected that Salles’ visit in Jacareacanga had been communicated to the miners. 

Justice Fachin issues vote against eviction of quilombola communities during the pandemic

Brazil doesn’t have so far a specific plan for the protection of Afro-brazilian traditional communities

Credit: Walisson Braga/via CPT

18 Feb 21

Justice Fachin issues vote against eviction of quilombola communities during the pandemic

In a suit by the National Coordination of Articulation of Rural Black Quilombola [Afro-Brazilian traditional communities] (Conaq) in the Federal Supreme Court (STF), Justice Edson Fachin diverged from the rapporteur of the case, Justice Marco Aurélio, and voted for the suspension of eviction actions against traditional communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Filed in September 2020, jointly with the PSB, PSOL, PCdoB, REDE and PT parties, the Argument of Noncompliance with a Fundamental Precept (ADPF) 742/2020 requires the Union to create and implement a national plan to combat the Covid-19 pandemic in quilombola communities. The requested deadline was 30 days, however nothing has been done until now. “After almost a year of the pandemic (…), the State still has not prepared unified measures to prevent families, especially from vulnerable groups such as quilombolas, from being expelled from their territories during the serious epidemiological crisis that the country is going through,” says a note from the Pastoral Land Commission on Fachin’s decision.

Leader of the Tembé Thenehara indigenous people is murdered by police agents

The Tembé Theneteraha had already request protection against death threats

Credit: Reproduction/via Cimi

15 Feb 21

Leader of the Tembé Thenehara indigenous people is murdered by police agents

Isak Tembé, 24 years old, was murdered in the Alto Rio Guama Indigenous Land in Capitão Poço, northeast Pará state. According to the Indigenous Missionary Council (Cimi), Tembé was killed in an “unjustified attack by military police officers”.

The organization points out that the Tembé Theneteraha are constant targets of persecution and threats by environmental criminals. In 2019, Federal Public Prosecution requested the Federal Police and the Army command in Belém (PA) an urgent operation to prevent attacks by loggers against the indigenous people.

In a note, the Tembé Theneteraha people describe the police as an “armed militia for the farmers,” repudiate the version that the young man would have attacked the agents, who would then have reacted, and requested an investigation at the scene. “We have been fighting against this violence for decades, and we will not stop until they stop illegally occupying our land. We are not afraid. The Federal Constitution protects our rights and the Brazilian State needs to enforce what the higher law mandates. We appeal to the authorities of Brazil and the world: don’t leave us alone!”.

Illegal gold digging pollutes waterfalls and rivers in Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Lands

Sete Quedas waterfall waters polluted with mining waste

Credit: @karibuxi/ Reproduction/Twitter

9 Feb 21

Illegal gold digging pollutes waterfalls and rivers in Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Lands

Indigenous peoples of the Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Land continue to struggle in defense of their territory, which suffers from the advance of illegal gold digging. As reported by the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, pictures taken in January show the critical state of the Sete Quedas and Urucá waterfalls, near the municipality of Uiramutã, polluted by mining waste.

The land is close to the Army’s 6th Border Platoon and, despite Operation Verde Brasil 2, which assigned the military to combat environmental crimes, the violators remain unpunished. “We have already denounced them, we called for an assembly, we made documents, maps, we delivered photographs, but so far nothing”, declared to the newspaper the vice-coordinator of the Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR), Edinho Batista de Souza.

As an aggravating factor, the leadership cites President Jair Bolsonaro’s declared incentive to mining on indigenous lands – as in the case of Bill 191/2020, which is awaiting a vote in the House of Representatives – and Bill 201/2020, of the Roraima government, which authorizes mining activity in the state “without prior study”.

After taking control over the Parliament, Bolsonaro pushes bill to allow mining in indigenous lands

House of Representatives new president, Arthur Lira, already received R$ 200,000 reais from an air company linked to illegal gold diggers

Credit: Facebook/Arthur Lira/Reproduction

3 Feb 21

After taking control over the Parliament, Bolsonaro pushes bill to allow mining in indigenous lands

After gaining political control of the Federal Senate and House of Representatives, with the election of his allies, Rodrigo Pacheco and Arthur Lira, president Jair Bolsonaro presented a list of his most pressing bills. Among them, Bill 191/2020, that authorizes mining inside indigenous territories, Bill 3729, that weakens the regulations for environmental licensing and Bill 2633/2020, known as “Land Grabbing Bill of Law”.

The bill that makes legal mining in indigenous territories removes the power of veto from the communities and authorizes oil and gas prospecting, building hydroelectric power plants and the cultivation of transgenic seeds and cattle herding. The project was repudiated and denounced by the largest indigenous organizations in the country.

Márcio Astrini, executive-secretary of the Climate Observatory, said that Lira rise to power in the House of Representatives will bring “an historical wave of attempts at approving environmental setbacks. In this scenario, hell is the limit”. Lira has received donations from an air flight company linked to illegal gold mining.

A study reveals that, if the Bill is approved and made effective, it could cause the devastation of 160,000 square kilometers in the Amazon rainforest.

Covid-19: Indigenous and quilombola communities face government neglect regarding vaccination plan

These populations are victim of institutional racism and disinformation tactics

Credit: Ana Mendes/Cimi

29 Jan 21

Covid-19: Indigenous and quilombola communities face government neglect regarding vaccination plan

Victims of federal government neglect, indigenous and quilombolas [Afro-brazilian traditional communities] organizations have pointed out serious flaws in the vaccination plan against Covid-19 executed by the Ministry of Health (MS), which began on January 20.

Regarding the indigenous population, the ministry announced that only “indigenous who live in villages” are among the priority groups contemplated in the first phase of vaccination. The Indigenous Missionary Council (Cimi), said that the criteria shows institutional racism by defining as indigenous only “people who live in villages of homologated indigenous lands,” ignoring people from urban contexts, which add up to almost half – 46%, according to data from the 2010 Census – of the country’s indigenous population. “The term used by the Minister of Health, ‘indigenous villagers’, takes us back to the period of the military dictatorship that represents discrimination, where the government intends to define arbitrarily who is and who is not indigenous […]. The National Vaccination Plan, therefore, needs to recognize the extension of this priority group and reach it in its entirety,” declared Roque Paloschi, president of Cimi, in a note released by the organization. In addition to racist typification, the indigenous population also fights against misinformation and fake news regarding immunization, stimulated by the firing of messages via Whatsapp and negationist discourses by evangelical pastors.

The quilombolas, on the other hand, which had previously been included in the groups contemplated in the first phase, do not have a stipulated date to receive the vaccines. Under the pretense that there are not enough doses to vaccinate the entire contingent of priority publics, the Ministry of Health declared that “there was a need for a replanning within the priorities initially listed” leaving the quilombola population unassisted. The coordinator of the Chamber of Indigenous Populations and Traditional Communities of the Federal Public Prosecuttion (6CCR/MPF), Eliana Torelly, sent a letter to the Ministry of Health requesting a position on the change, in which she points out that the decision was reflected in the state plans, leaving quilombolas at the mercy of conflicting and inaccurate information.

Nine Yanomami children die with Covid-19 compatible symptoms

An Yanomami receives medical attention on July 2020

Credit: Agência Saúde via Amazônia real

29 Jan 21

Nine Yanomami children die with Covid-19 compatible symptoms

In January alone, nine Yanomami children in Roraima died of high fever and respiratory difficulty, symptoms compatible with Covid-19. On December 26, the Yanomami and Ye’Kuana District Council (Condisi-YY) had requested medical teams for the communities. Health posts in the region have been closed for two months.

“So far we have no response. The Waphuta and Kataroa communities are without health care. I received information from the leaders of these communities and they said that they still have many sick people. A group of 25 children are having the same symptoms and are in a grave condition. This is very serious,” Condisi-YY president Junior Hekuari Yanomami told the website Amazônia Real.

A survey by the Pro-YY Network indicates that the Yanomami Indigenous Territory had so far had 1641 confirmed cases and 16 deaths, in addition to 14 suspects. The first indigenous victim of Covid-19 in Brazil was a fifteen-year-old Yanomami teenager.

Orowao Pandran, Canoé youth leader, dies from Covid-19 related complications

Indigenous organizations blame systemic state neglect

Credit: Apib

28 Jan 21

Orowao Pandran, Canoé youth leader, dies from Covid-19 related complications

Orowao Pandran Canoé Oro Mon, of the Canoé indigenous people, died, after being infected with COVID-19 and suffering from kidney complications, in the city of Porto Velho, capital of Rondônia. Graduated in Environmental Management and studying for a Master’s degree in Literature, the young indigenous was considered a leader. Indigenous organizations, such as the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), affirmed that Orowao’s death happened “due to negligence of the Brazilian State”.

“Pandran was a great example for the indigenous movement, especially for the youth. In his academic career, he has always been active in the student’s movement, supporting the organization and struggle of students, especially indigenous people,” said the entity in an official statement.

Indigenous organizations protest against bill that authorizes gold digging in Roraima, exempt previous analysis

Indigenous leaders deliver letter of denouncement to public prosecution

Credit: Obind/Reproduction

21 Jan 21

Indigenous organizations protest against bill that authorizes gold digging in Roraima, exempt previous analysis

Indigenous organizations have presented a formal complaint against the Bill of Law 201/2020, authored by Roraima state government, which allows gold digging permits with previous analysis. The denouncement was presented to Federal and State Prosecution. 

A special commission of the State Congress voted unanimously in favor of the bill by Roraima State Governor Antonio Denarium that liberates the mining activity in Roraima “without prior analysis,” points out an article by the G1. The bill, called PL 201/2020 does not detail which ores and territories it affects. It also allows, through an amendment by congressional representative Éder Lourinho, the use of mercury in the activities, responsible for serious social and environmental damage.

While Denarium speaks of “allying mining with sustainability,” the Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR), as well as other organizations, are contrary to the proposal and calls for its withdrawal from vote. In a statement, the CIR recalled the indigenous struggle against the invasion of their lands in the state, like in the Raposa do Sol and Yanomami Indigenous Lands, and said the project is an “attack on the environment“. “To approve PL 201 is to legalize the destruction of forests, pollution of rivers, lakes, streams and our rich land, which is home to thousands of animals, birds, fish and all kinds of living beings”.

As promised, Bolsonaro administration halts indigenous land demarcation

Indigenous Land Ituna-Itatá, one of the most affected by deforestation, is still waiting for governmental approval

Credit: Fábio Nascimento/Greenpeace

3 Jan 21

As promised, Bolsonaro administration halts indigenous land demarcation

“As long as I am president, there will be no demarcation of indigenous lands”. One year and six months after Jair Bolsonaro’s speech, the promise has been kept. In addition, the government has slowed down 70% of the demarcation processes already requested, points out the newspaper O Globo’s survey based on data from the Socio-environmental Institute (ISA).

The survey, carried out in registry offices and through consultations of decrees, ministerial ordinances and publications of the National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI), shows that 70% of the processes – referring to 237 territories – are frozen between FUNAI and the Ministry of Justice, the organs responsible for “identification, study and declarations of the lands”, before receiving the presidential sanction.

Government spent only half of allocated budget to fight Covid-19 among indigenous, says NGO

Study claims that there is a “genocide in course”

Credit: Ingrid Ãgohó Pataxó/ Cimi

14 Dec 20

Government spent only half of allocated budget to fight Covid-19 among indigenous, says NGO

The National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), the federal agency responsible for ensuring the rights of the indigenous peoples, spent only half of the resources available for fighting the coronavirus among the indigenous until early December. The figure comes from an unprecedented survey by the Institute of Socio-economic Studies (Inesc). Also, the government program “Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, also had only 46% of its budget applied in the period. “The low budget usage rate is emblematic of the undermining of the indigenous policies, which, deprived of staff, technical staff and political priority, fails in fulfilling its constitutional duties”, points out Leila Saraiva, political advisor to the NGO.

The data reinforce the claim made by the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil Network (Apib) with the report “Our fight is for life”, which details the impact of the pandemic among the indigenous population. By December 9, the National Committee for Indigenous Life and Memory registered 41,250 indigenous people infected and 889 deaths because of Covid-19.

Human Rights ministry pressures indigenous to concede part of their territory to land grabbers in the Amazon

Indigenous state that they were held for three days in a farm

Credit: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

30 Nov 20

Human Rights ministry pressures indigenous to concede part of their territory to land grabbers in the Amazon

A group of Parakanã indigenous is accusing the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights (MMFDH), led by Damares Alves, of arbitrating and participating in a meeting with farmers in order to pressure chiefs to accept a proposal that includes the reduction of the Apyterewa Indigenous Territory, located between the municipalities of São Félix do Xingu and Altamira, Pará State, in the Amazon. In a letter of denouncement and protest, to which the newspaper O Globo had access, leaders reported that the meeting came as a surprise. They were told that they would discuss the invasion of land grabbers on indigenous lands. The meeting, with representatives of the ministry of Damares and farmers, was held on an irregular rural property located inside the indigenous land. In a statement to the Federal Public Prosecution (MPF), an indigenous person that attended the meeting reported that the indigenous people were detained for three days inside the property, without outside contact, being threatened by the landowners to agree to their requests to redefine the demarcation of the territory.

The letter points out the active participation of the federal government as a threatening agent and also says that the proposition to reduce the territory is unconstitutional. “[It was] Another trick of the Federal Government, allied with the invaders and the City Hall of São Félix, to cause internal division and confuse the leaders of the Parakanã people, with the eternal promise that the reduction of territory will resolve conflicts and bring peace to the Parakanã people,” says the text.

In a note sent to the newspaper, the MMFDH denies that they tried to force a treaty that would alter the Apyterewa Indigenous Territory”.

Illegal gold digging massively poisons Amazon Munduruku indigenous with mercury

Blood samples of four out of ten children under the age of five present high mercury levels

Credit: Rogério Assis/Greenpeace

26 Nov 20

Illegal gold digging massively poisons Amazon Munduruku indigenous with mercury

A study on the presence of mercury poisoning caused by illegal gold digging among the Munduruku people in the Tapajós region, Pará State, indicates the presence of the metal in 100% of participants. About 57.9% had mercury levels above 6µg.g-1 – the maximum limit established by health agencies. The survey, conducted with 200 inhabitants of the Indigenous Land (TI) Sawré Muybu, focusing on the villages of Sawré Muybu, Poxo Muybu and Sawré Aboy, shows that in the regions most affected by illegal mining, the level of contamination observed was higher.

Among the children examined, 4 out of 10 under five years old in the three villages showed high concentrations of mercury. “This finding is especially worrisome, since mercury directly affects the Central Nervous System, which is developing in children under five years of age, and the brains of fetuses still in formation in the mother’s womb,” says the study. The survey also showed that the fish in the region, the major source of protein in the communities, are also contaminated by mercury.

Conducted by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) in partnership with the NGO WWF-Brazil, the study presents a series of recommendations to mitigate the problem, such as the immediate interruption of illegal gold mining in indigenous territories, a plan to discontinue the use of mercury in the camps, and a risk management plan for populations chronically exposed to mercury.

Afro-Brazilian quilombola suffer with electrical blackout in Amapá State

Population is affected by water shortage and lack of proper access to medical services

Credit: Conaq/Divulgação

19 Nov 20

Afro-Brazilian quilombola suffer with electrical blackout in Amapá State

Since the beginning of November, the state of Amapá has been experiencing a power blackout that affects 13 of the state’s 16 municipalities, aggravating the vulnerability of the 258 quilombola communities [Afro-brazilian traditional communities] identified in the state, according to a number estimated by the National Coordination of Rural Black Quilombola Communities (Conaq). “If it is already bad in the city, worse in the community. There are people who are hungry, there are people who are sick, there are people who cannot drink water, there are several adverse situations,” the National Coordinator of Conaq, Núbia Cristina, reported to the organization’s website.

The quilombolas have suffered from the cutoff of the water supply — with no energy, no water pumping — and the consequent contamination by the consumption of non-potable water, obtained out of artesian wells and rivers, as residents told the Jornal de Brasília. The storage of food has also been compromised, spoiling meat and other items, and the blackout has made it difficult to buy food from local traders, with prices rising.

The blackout has also aggravated the Covid-19 pandemic among the quilombola population. Without access to ambulances, which do not reach the quilombola territories, the community has mobilized itself to transport contaminated people to health centers, without any kind of protection.

The critical situation experienced in the communities has also killed an important local leadership, Sérgio Clei de Almeida, president of the Quilombos Association of San Francisco de Matapí. The 50 year old leader died on November 18, trying to re-establish the electricity supply to the community of Torrão do Matapí.

After five years, Federal Justice acknowledges Belo Monte dam negative impacts on indigenous peoples

dam affected way of life and culture of indigenous peoples who live in the Xingu Basin

Credit: Marcos Corrêa/PR/via Fotos Públicas

16 Nov 20

After five years, Federal Justice acknowledges Belo Monte dam negative impacts on indigenous peoples

In a provisional decision that partially meets the claim of the Federal Public Prosecution Office (MPF) made in a lawsuit initiated in 2015, regarding the “ethnocidal action” of the company Norte Energia in the construction of the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Plant, the Federal Court in Altamira (PA) recognized that the undertaking caused significant changes “in cultural traits, way of life and land use by indigenous peoples, causing relevant instability in intra- and inter-ethnic relations,” according to a note from the MPF.

The decision, announced on November 13, orders changes in the execution of the Basic Indigenous Environmental Plan of Belo Monte, in addition to determining “that the Union and the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) present within 90 days a schedule for completion of the land regularization processes of the indigenous lands Paquiçamba, of the Juruna Yudjá people, and Cachoeira Seca, of the Arara people”. Another measure will be the creation of an External Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, composed by the MPF, representatives of the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (Coiab) and non-indigenous organizations of civil society that operate in the region of the Xingu medium.

Since October, Altamira, in Pará State, has faced a historic drought in the stretch known as the Volta Grande do Xingu, which is part of the reservoir of the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam. Recently, volunteers have mobilized to rescue the fish affected by the low volume of water, bogged down in puddles and mud in the river beds.

Indigenous health: Covid-19 menace increases with environmental destruction

Deforestation helps the virus spread: a tragic combination for local populations

Credit: Vinícius Mendonça/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

10 Nov 20

Indigenous health: Covid-19 menace increases with environmental destruction

Since March, studies and surveys by researchers and civil society organizations have been issuing warnings about the extreme vulnerability of the indigenous population when facing the Covid-19 pandemic. The environmental devastation promoted by the burning and deforestation, which reached record levels in 2020, is pointed out as a significant risk factor for indigenous health, by increasing the risk of contagion and bringing territorial instability.

Reporter Brasil brought to the public an unprecedented survey of the NGO Global Forest Watch that points to the devastation promoted by more than 115 thousand outbreaks of fire in several Indigenous Lands since the beginning of the year until October 29. According to the report, out of the more than 724 TIs contemplated by the report, in several states, 61% registered fires. Local leaders and experts point out the lack of structure to fight the fires – used by farmers to clean the pasture – and denounce the abandonment of the National Indian Foundation (Funai). Indigenous Land Parque do Xingu, in Mato Grosso State, is among the most affected in 2020, with 10,502 outbreaks of fire. “Our reality is not good at all. We’ve lost many leaders, our people are dying [from Covid-19] and, to make matters worse, our house, which is our pharmacy and our supermarket, is on fire,” reported Watatakalu Yawalapiti, the region’s leader, who is home to 16 ethnic groups in 500 villages.

Although the fire from the fires does not directly affect the communities, its impact on health will be felt, points out the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation. The research “Covid-19 and burning in the Legal Amazon and Pantanal: cumulative aspects and vulnerabilities,” released by the Deutsche Welle on November 12, warns about how the coexistence of the increase in burning and the presence of Covid-19 can further aggravate the health situation of the indigenous peoples. “The large occurrence of burnings, which has reached record numbers in 2020, combined with low humidity in the Amazon region and Pantanal, may worsen the impact of the epidemic of Covid-19. The particulate material and toxic gases generated by the burning of biomass reach long distances, and can affect large cities in the North and Midwest regions, as well as river-dwellers populations, quilombos and indigenous lands hundreds of kilometers away from the sources of fire. The particulate material has a great inflammatory potential, which can aggravate the cases of Covid-19, being also a gateway for respiratory infections,” says the technical note of the study. The document highlights that one of the priority areas for strengthening the health system and control of fires is precisely that of the “arc of deforestation,” especially in northern Mato Grosso State, where TI Parque do Xingu (MT) is located, and in the southeast of Pará State.

Alongside with the fires, deforestation on indigenous lands, caused by gold diggers, miners, and illegal loggers, grows exponentially, increasing the risk of Covid-19 spreading in the villages, points out another study, prepared by the Instituto Socioambiental [Socio-environmental Institute] (ISA) and released in September. According to the organization, in the Trincheira-Bacajá, Kayapó and Munduruku indigenous lands, in southwest Pará, deforestation increased, respectively, 827%, 420% and 238%, between March and July 2020. The regions are among the seven most invaded lands in the Legal Amazon, together with the Karipuna and Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau (Rondônia State), Araribóia (Maranhão State) and Yanomami (Amazonas and Roraima States). As a response, the cases of the diseases shoot up in the territories, says ISA.

In the most recent survey made by the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB) about the impact of Covid-19 among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon, until November 9, 28,241 confirmed cases of the disease were registered, 643 suspects and 695 deaths, in 133 peoples.

Normative that attacks processes of demarcation of indigenous lands is invalidated by court decision

A Santarém (PA) court accepted MPF’s request

Credit: Rogério Assis/Greenpeace

30 Oct 20

Normative that attacks processes of demarcation of indigenous lands is invalidated by court decision

In the last week of October, indigenous movements took an important step against the systematic violation of territories. In a sentence signed on the 27th, the Federal Court in Santarém (PA) invalidated the normative instruction nº 9/2020, published by the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), in April, which removes from the country’s land registers the indigenous lands still in the demarcation process. According to the sentence, the instruction violates article 231 of the Constitution, which protects the indigenous right to land as a precedent, and demonstrates “a clear option for the defense of the interests of individuals to the detriment of indigenous interests and, therefore, the public heritage itself, in an apparent inversion of values and swindling the institutional mission,” as reported the portal of the Federal Public Ministry (MPF). The text also reinforced that the existence of indigenous territories not yet definitively regularized is a pending issue caused by the slowness of the federal government.

With the decision, FUNAI and the Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA) have a period of 15 days to re-introduce into the Land Management System (Sigef) and the Rural Environmental Cadastre System (Sicar) all the indigenous lands not yet ratified in the regions of the lower Tapajós and lower Amazon.

In all, the MPF filed 24 lawsuits against normative instruction 9/2020, filed in 13 states – Pará, Roraima, Amazonas, Acre, Rondônia, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Ceará, Bahia, São Paulo, Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul – requesting its provisional suspension and annulment after the definitive judgment of the cases.

The measure had already been criticized by several indigenous organizations, political parties – which have even requested its annulment by the STF – and environmental officials. For the Indigenist Associated Group (INA), an association of FUNAI servants, the 9/2020 normative instruction “transforms FUNAI into an instance of certification of properties for squatters, land grabbers, and plotters of Indigenous Lands,” according to a technical note published in April.

Kayapó people present  manifesto against gold mining in their indigenous territories

Illegal gold mining in Kayapó lands, Pará State

Crédito: Divulgação/ISA

8 Oct 20

Kayapó people present manifesto against gold mining in their indigenous territories

Leaders from 56 Kayapó-Mẽbêngôkre indigenous communities, representing over 6,200 people, released a manifesto against Bill of Law (PL) 191/2020, proposed by the federal government. The PL regulates mining on indigenous lands, as well as the construction of hydroelectric plants. In the manifesto, the Kayapó say that mining would threaten the environmental preservation in their communities and the traditional way of life. “We repudiate the way the federal government has been encouraging the invasion of our territories, either by the rhetoric that strengthens organized crime, or by the omission and weakening of the institutios responsible for protecting indigenous territories and by combating illegal and predatory activities”, says the manifesto. 

The NGO World Resources Institute (WRI) denounced the problem on a global scale with the publication of the report “Undermining Rights: Indigenous Lands and Mining in the Amazon”, on the impact of gold mining on indigenous populations in Amazonian countries, including Brazil. The document — which provides an estimate of the total extent of large-scale mining concessions and illegal operations in indigenous territories within the rainforest — also points to favoring, by national laws, of companies over indigenous communities, according to an evaluation study of six Amazonian countries – Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana and Peru.

Farmers use armored bulldozer to attack Guarani-Kaiowá indigenous people in Dourados (MT)

Excerpt from the report shown on Fantástico

Crédito: Fantástico/Rede Globo/Reproduction

4 Oct 20

Farmers use armored bulldozer to attack Guarani-Kaiowá indigenous people in Dourados (MT)

Videos recorded in 2019 by indigenous Guarani-Kaiowá, in Dourados (MS), show an armored bulldozer advancing against a camp. The vehicle is yet another weapon of ruralists in the region to attack the 450 Guarani-Kaiowá families who occupy the territory and claim the demarcation of their lands. A report by Fantástico, from Rede Globo TV, revealed the images. The tractor-tank, nicknamed after the war-grade vehicles used by the military police to invade favelas in Rio de Janeiro, is also used to fire rubber bullets, gas canisters and live ammunition against indigenous and small farmers. An elderly Guarani-Kaiowá woman, aged 75, had both of her legs broken when the vehicle hit a tent. According to CIMI, the Indigenist Missionary Council, records of violence against indigenous people more than doubled between 2018 and 2019 while President Jair Bolsonaro has strictly followed his promise not to demarcate “an inch” of indigenous land during his term.

Indigenist dies while trying to protect isolated indigenous group

Tragedy exposes vulnerability of isolated indigenous peoples

Crédito: Mário Vilela/Funai

9 Sep 20

Indigenist dies while trying to protect isolated indigenous group

The indigenist Rieli Franciscato, 56, died on September 9 when he was hit by an arrow in the chest while monitoring a group of isolated indigenous people in the State of Rondônia. Rieli was a renowned active indigenist in the country, with over 30 years at the service of the National Foundation of the Indian (Funai). He worked to avoid friction between non-indigenous and a indigenous non-contact group known as “Isolados do Cautário[Cautário Isolates]” that appeared near Seringueiras (RO) in June; he was also engaging in preventive actions to avoid exposing the isolates to the coronavirus pandemic.

That day, Rieli went to the scene with two military policemen and an indigenous colleague. The team found and followed footprints that led to Indigenous Land (TI) Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau; already inside the indigenous territory, Rieli was hit in the chest with an arrow and was taken to the hospital, but did not resist the wound. Rieli’s death shocked sertanistas, indigenistas and Funai’s workers. It also exposed the precarious and vulnerable situation of isolated peoples. Ivaneide Bandeira, coordinator of the Association for Ethno-Environmental Defense Kanindé, which she founded together with Rieli in 1992 to protect the indigenous peoples of Rondônia drew attention, in an interview to DW Brasil, to the risk of silent ethnocide among isolated peoples amid the fires. “With the dismantling of the Rio Madeira teams and the entire Funai structure, we don’t even know if they are alive,” she said.

Two weeks later, on September 22, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office (MPF) of Rondônia recommended that Funai and the Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (Sesai) should create health and safety barriers on the lines of access to the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau Indigenous Territory to protect the isolated peoples of the Cautário River region.

Covid-19: In Pará State, indigenous communities are facing neglect during pandemic outbreak

Organizations criticize Sesai’s tardiness in testing symptomatic indigenous

Crédito: Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil

25 Jun 20

Covid-19: In Pará State, indigenous communities are facing neglect during pandemic outbreak

Indigenous populations in the southwest of Pará State are living through a critical situation as the coronavirus pandemic advances in the region. Between May 25th and June 18th, 22 local individuals died from Covid-19. The virus also infected 638 indigenous among the 12 different ethnicities that inhabit the area.

Facing government neglect and lack of public structure to aid the indigenous territories, a team of volunteers — researchers, public servants, missionaries, and concerned citizens from different federal universities, social movements and indigenous groups — formed the Mutual Indigenous Support Network of Southeast Pará.  They demand medical supplies and complain about the under-reporting of Covid-19 cases, which is detrimental to the formation of an organized plan to fight the pandemic. The group says that the Special Secretariat of Indigenous Health (Sesai), linked to the Ministry of Health, is taking too long to test and detect the spread of the virus in the region, one of the main deforestation frontiers in the Amazon state of Pará.

Covid-19: Deaths among indigenous rises by 800%; APIB calls out “institutional racism”

APIB denounces under-reporting and lack of government aid

Crédito: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

23 Apr 20

Covid-19: Deaths among indigenous rises by 800%; APIB calls out “institutional racism”

According to the Indigenous People of Brazil Articulation (APIB), deaths among indigenous people rose by 800% in 15 days. Of the 10 registered casualties by April 23th, only four were recognized by the Special Secretariat of Indigenous Health (Sesai). APIB denounced the “under-reporting” and qualified as “institutional racism” the lack of monitoring of the situation of indigenous who live outside their traditional territories. “We don’t accept actions that make our people invisible and mask the actual risk of a new genocide”, the organization stated.

Indigenous  of the Uru-eu-wau-wau people is found dead in Rondônia State

Ari Uru-eu-wau-wau was threatened for months

Crédito: Gabriel Uchida/Kanindé/via Cimi

20 Apr 20

Indigenous of the Uru-eu-wau-wau people is found dead in Rondônia State

Ari Uru-eu-wau-wau, 33, of the Uru-eu-wau-wau people, was found dead on the night of the 18th on the side of a road in Tarilândia, a district of the Jaru municipality, Rondônia State in the Amazon. Ari belonged to a vigilance group that denounced and registered illegal logging operations at indigenous territory.

According to a Karipuna representative, Ari was being threatened by loggers with several occurrences in the last few months. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Brasil), the Ethnic-environmental Defense Association (Kanindé) and the Missionary Indigenist Council (Cimi) confirmed the information.

The indigenous territory Uru-eu-wau-wau is considered by environmentalists as one of the most important in Rondônia, harbouring 17 river springs, rich biodiversity and several threatened animal species. Yet still Uru-eu-wau-wau faces one of the highest deforestation rates in the state.

Government's bill opens indigenous territories for commercial exploitation

Illegal gold mining camp in Jamanxim National Park (PA)

Crédito: Felipe Werneck/Ibama/CC BY-SA 2.0

5 Feb 20

Government’s bill opens indigenous territories for commercial exploitation

During a celebratory ceremony that marked 400 days of Bolsonaro’s mandate, the federal government presented bill 191/2020 that aims to open indigenous territories for commercial exploitation. The bill proposes to regulate the extraction of gas, oil, gold and other minerals, as well as infrastructure such as hydropower plants and dams to generate electricity. The bill needs to be discussed and voted by the National Congress.

Guajajara indigenous leaders are killed in Maranhão

Guajajara protest after the killing of Raimundo and Firmino

Créditos: Josoaldo Oliveira/Divulgação/via O Globo

7 Dec 19
Paulino Guajajara is murdered

Guajajara was threatened and asked for protection to a witness protection service

Crédito: Patrick Raynaud/Midia Ninja/via CC BY-SA 4.0

1 Nov 19

Paulino Guajajara is murdered

Paulino Guajajara, an indigenous forest agent from the Guajajara people in Maranhão State,  was ambushed and assassinated by invading loggers  inside the Araribóia indigenous reservation. Paulino died from a gunshot wound to his face; another indigenous leader, Laercio Guajajara, was  hurt and taken to a hospital. There were reports that one of the loggers also died in the conflict but his body was yet to be located. Paulino had been getting death threats for a while and had requested to join the witness protection service in a state program. “He didn’t have the time,” said Sonia Guajajara, coordinator for the Articulation  of the Indigenous People of Brazil (APIB) and a relative of Paulino.

Funai public servant is murdered in the Amazon

Maxciel Pereira dos Santos was working in a protected area in Vale do Javari region

Crédito: Personal archive

11 Sep 19

Funai public servant is murdered in the Amazon

An indigenist (expert on indigenous issues) connected with FUNAI was killed in front of his family in the city of Tabatinga, Amazonas state, on the border with Colombia. Maxciel Pereira dos Santos was executed with a shot to the back of his head in a busy street, according to information from INA (the association of public servants for FUNAI). Maxciel worked in the Javari Valley, a region that concentrates dozens of uncontacted indigenous groups and a highly sensitive ecological area suffering increasing invasions by illegal loggers, miners and hunters. INA requested protection for Funai workers, but many indigenists left the region due to death threats. “The invaders already sent their message: they will not stop. FUNAI people already left. Who wants to be killed for nothing?”, declared Adelson Korá, coordinator for the Kanamary Indigenous Association of the Javari Valley.

Emyra Waiãpi is murdered by gold-diggers

Bolsonaro said that there is no evidence that the native Brazilian was murdered

Crédito: Handout/via G1

29 Jul 19

Emyra Waiãpi is murdered by gold-diggers

A Waiãpi Indigenous leader was killed on July 22th amid an invasion of his community lands by gold diggers, in the west of Amapa Amazon State. Emyra Waiãpi, 68 years old, was violently stabbed and assaulted at the Mariry village; his body had marks of beatings and was missing an eye. Around 1,300 waiãpis live in the demarcated land; they are the only indigenous group in the country with an official permit to do low scale gold mining in their territory. Two days after the killing, around 50 gold diggers attacked the Mariry village, in the first invasion of its kind in decades. An internal FUNAI document accessed by the press mentioned at least 15 heavily armed gunmen and stated “we can conclude the presence of invaders is real and the tension in the  region is high”. After a few days, Apina, the Waiãpi Villages Council,  published a note with more  details on the killing and the invasion of their territory. 

Reacting to the news of the Waiãpi assassination, president Bolsonaro questioned the veracity of the story and reaffirmed his support to opening indigenous reserves  and other protected areas to mining and gold digging. “They use the indigenous people as a manipulated mass, to demarcate more and more lands, to say they are mistreated. Now this case…there is no strong evidence that this indigenous was killed there. There are many possibilities, the Federal Police is there, we sent over who we could send over; I will try to solve the case and show the truth about all of this,” he said. He went on to say that international NGOs are against gold mining in these properties  because they want the indigenous to “remain locked in a zoo” and  because they challenge Brazil’s sovereignty over the Amazon.

“It’s a very rich land (the Yanomami reservation); if you  put it together with Raposa Serra do Sol (reservation),  there is an absurd amount of minerals there. I am looking for ‘first  world’  (partners) to  explore those areas adding value. That’s the reason to get close to the USA. That’s why I want someone that I trust at the Brazilian Embassy in the USA, ” he said.  At the time, Bolsonaro wanted to name his son, federal deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro, as ambassador in Washington to have “quick and immediate contact with the american president”.

Bolsonaro says that there will be no more indigenous lands demarcations

“They want to steal the Amazon from Brazil”, he said

Crédito: Carolina Antunes/Wikimedia Commons/via CC BY 2.0

19 Jun 19

Bolsonaro says that there will be no more indigenous lands demarcations

In a meeting with journalists, president Bolsonaro declared that his administration will not demarcate any new indigenous land during his government. “It is our initiative, it is our prerogative…Who decides at the end of the line it’s  me, I am the one who signs the demarcation decree. I won’t sign off on any new indigenous reservation in Brazil”, he declared. He also criticised  the size of indigenous territories, citing as an  example that the Yanomami territory is twice as big as the city of Rio de Janeiro for “only 9,000 indigenous”. He claimed that this can not be normal and blamed it  on  “external pressure”, highlighting that all indigenous lands are demarcated on “rich lands”.   When questioned about the Amazon Synod planned by the Vatican for the second semester of the year, president Bolsonaro replied that he worries about what decisions will be made  because “they want to steal the Amazon from Brazil”.  He went further mentioning a plan called “the triple A, 136 million hectares, from the Andes – Amazon – Atlantic. A huge strip of land under international jurisdiction with the excuse of preserving the environment. What they want is to steal our Amazon and people don’t realize that. The international press says that I want to destroy the Amazon, but I want the Amazon for ourselves.”

Minister intends to open indigenous lands to mining corporations

Illegal gold digging camp at Idigenous Land Munduruku, Pará State

Crédito: Vinícius Mendonça/Ibama/CC BY-SA 2.0

4 Mar 19

Minister intends to open indigenous lands to mining corporations

Before an audience of investors and mining executives in Canada, the Minister of Mines and Energy, Bento Albuquerque, said that the Bolsonaro government intends to allow mining on indigenous lands. According to him, approval depends on the National Congress and previous consultations with indigenous populations. During his speech, which took place in one of the main mining events in the world, the minister also promised to open border areas to international mining companies and encourage the extraction of radioactive ores.

Tukano’s indigenous leader murdered

Chief Francisco Pereira, 53, murdered in Manaus, Amazonas State

Crédito: Arquivo pessoal

27 Feb 19
Minister of the Environment says that he doesn’t know who Chico Mendes is

Chico Mendes was one of the greatest Amazon defenders

Crédito: TV Cultura/Handout

15 Feb 19

Minister of the Environment says that he doesn’t know who Chico Mendes is

During a live interview on a TV show, the Environment Minister declared that he had never been to the Amazon region or knew who Chico Mendes was. He also said that agribusiness representatives told him that Chico Mendes, one of the most known Amazon defenders, “exploited rubber tappers communities”. Stirring public outrage, he went further: “The fact is that he is irrelevant. What difference does it make who is Chico Mendes now?”.

Brumadinho: dam collapses and cities are covered by toxic mud

A river of mining tailing was formed after the collapse of the Brumadinho dam

Crédito: Felipe Werneck/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

25 Jan 19

Brumadinho: dam collapses and cities are covered by toxic mud

In the early afternoon of that Friday, a dam at Mina do Feijão, in Minas Gerais state, operated by Vale Mining company, collapsed and spilled over 12 million cubic meters of mud contaminated with ore tailings on dozens of nearby communities and on the Paraopeba river basin. More than 250 people died at the scene, mostly Vale workers and residents, but also some tourists. The images of bodies being dragged out of the sea of contaminated mud that covered houses, vehicles, roads and trees shocked Brazilians in what was considered one of the worst environmental tragedies in the country’s history. 

“Federal government has nothing to do” with Brumadinho tragedy

Bolsonaro talks about the collapse of dam

Foto: Isac Nóbrega/PR/via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

25 Jan 19

“Federal government has nothing to do” with Brumadinho tragedy

Despite reacting fast by sending a few ministers to the scene, setting up a “crisis cabinet” in Brasilia and praising solidarity to the hundreds of victims, president Bolsonaro also declared that the federal government “had nothing to do with” the Brumadinho tragedy, implicating it was solely the company’s responsibilities to what he categorized as an “accident that maybe could have been possible to prevent”. A few days later, the Minister of the Environment declared in an interview that, due to the Brumadinho tragedy, environmental licensing and inspections should be reviewed by Congress and reframed according to priorities due to limited resources; this review would include the possibility of a self-declaratory license for what he called ‘low impact activities’ such as ‘using land for agriculture’.

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