Brazil: Indians Unhappy with Lula


Brazil: Indians Unhappy with Lula

Indigenous peoples and their allies want indigenous policy of the
Lula administration to be
defined. They are promoting meetings
to debate alternatives and strategies and join forces to pressure

the government to take urgent and effective measures to
change the present situation of violence
and instability.

by:
Cimi

Over six months have gone by since Lula took office and his administration has not implemented any concrete
changes in the indigenous policy so far. Meanwhile, the situation of violence and of instability in the indigenous agency
continues, leaving indigenous peoples exposed to a scenario of extreme fragility and perplexity.

As a symbolic expression of this chaotic scenario, even the head office of the indigenous agency (Funai) was
partially burned down as a result of a suspected arson. In this context, the indigenous movement and its allies are promoting
meetings to debate alternatives and strategies and join forces to pressure the government to take urgent and effective measures to
change this situation.

One of these initiatives was taken by the Missionary Evangelical Working Group (GTME), which brought together
its members and guests from the indigenous movement, Cimi and the Native Amazon Operation at the seminar "Indigenous
Policies and the GTME Pastoral Activities," held at the Chapada dos Guimarães plateau, state of Mato Grosso, on July 16-18.

In a manifesto, they pointed out the inaction of the Lula administration in implementing its program and demanded
that its "commitments toward indigenous peoples" be put into practice immediately in all of their dimensions. In the
document, they regret that fact that up till now the government has been more interested in pleasing anti-indigenous interests and in
ensuring more space to them than in meeting the needs of indigenous communities and they demanded positive signs of its
intentions towards indigenous peoples, such as the official confirmation of the bounds of the Raposa/Serra do Sol indigenous land
in the state of Roraima.

Regarding the indigenous health policy implemented by the National Health Foundation (FUNAI), the manifesto
points to serious problems caused by a system of agreements imposed on indigenous and pro-indigenous organizations,
according to which "everything has to be done based on the logic of the government, which has been acting in a unilateral and
domineering way."

Given these facts, they propose "the urgent implementation of the Arouca Law and of the decisions made at the
National Indigenous Health Conferences, through the creation of a specific agency in the Ministry of Health in charge of
managing indigenous health issues" based on the so-called Special Indigenous Health Districts (DSEIs) and Indigenous Health
Agents that respect the traditional health practices of each people.

In what regards indigenous education, they support the establishment of a secretariat to ensure the right of
indigenous people to develop their own political-educational projects. Education is seen as an important and necessary aspiration
of indigenous peoples, but it should be ensured in tune with their unique customs, traditions and teaching methods.

Without respect for these precepts, they stressed that education will not ensure the preservation and enhancement of
the traditional culture of indigenous people and will break the communities apart and destroy their culture.

In the final part of the document, they mentioned the acts of violence being committed against indigenous peoples,
which caused the death of 18 indigenous persons this year alone as a result of the current scenario of undefined measures,
mistakes, and inaction. "We hope that this scenario will lead the Lula administration to reaffirm and implement the commitments
it assumed immediately, so that the problems pointed out may be eliminated. We are willing to provide our collaboration
in this process," they say at the end of the manifesto.

According to Egon Heck, Cimi’s executive secretary, who attended the meeting, these have been important moments
not only because of the proposals made and positions assumed, but also because of the combination of efforts they have
been fostering in pursuance of a new indigenous policy, with comprehensive inputs from the indigenous movement and its allies.

This material was prepared by Cimi – Indianist Missionary Council. Wish to contact them? Then write
to cimi@embratel.net.br

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