Since January 3, indigenous people have been occupying the headquarters of the Funai (Fundação Nacional do Àndio – National Indigenous Foundation) in Manaus in the state of Amazonas to request the demarcation of indigenous lands under Funai’s jurisdiction.
They are also asking for the substitution of the current manager of the foundation, Benedito Rangel de Moraes.
The indigenous people allege bad management and hold the manager responsible for not investigating cases of rape against indigenous women that were carried out by employees of the regional institution in Manaus.
The Funai has appealed to the courts with a request to repossess the headquarters in Manaus. According to the Agência Brasil News Agency, the interim president of Funai, Roberto Lustosa, has said that an inquiry would be opened to investigate these claims.
Lustosa added, however, that he would not negotiate with the indigenous people whilst they remained in the foundation’s headquarters in Manaus.
The indigenous people have confirmed that they will only leave the building in the presence of the president of Funai, Mercio Pereira Gomes.
According to Benjamim Baniwa, an indigenous person, Pereira Gomes said that he will not go to Manaus. “He said that he will not come because he considers this to be an invasion and has already asked for the building to be repossessed.”
The indigenous people are looking for interlocutors to prevent the Federal Police from entering the building.
“We are waiting for Senator Jefferson Peres and state deputies to try and find a solution. The behavior of Rangel and the president, who ought to be defending the interests of indigenous people, in calling the police is strange”, Baniwa argues.
Baniwa also said that the movement, which started off with 32 indigenous members of the Mura people, now involves 130 indigenous people from 10 ethnic groups from the state of Amazonas.
Some of the peoples present live up to 600 km from Manaus and, as new peoples arrive, the accusations against the regional manager are increasing.
“Rangel can no longer continue in a management role. There is no way that he can go into indigenous areas. He will not be allowed to go to my region [the municipality of Barcelos, state of Amazonas],” the member of the Baniwa indigenous people stated.
Cimi ”“ Indianist Missionary Council