Leaders of several indigenous peoples have occupied the
headquarters of the National
Health Foundation in São Luiz,
capital of Maranhão state. They demand the presence of the
the Foundation and say that they will not leave
until they have a positive reply from the organization.
Around 450 indigenous leaders of the Guajajara, Krikati, Gavião and Timbira people have been camped out since
last October 28 at the headquarters of the National Health Foundation (Funasa) in São Luiz do Maranhão.
The objective of the protest is to draw the attention of the organization in Brasília to the problems related to the
health services supplied to these people, as well as applying pressure on the president of Funasa to make him visit São Luiz.
The people have asked to be involved in discussions on the current model of health system adopted in the state,
which according to the indigenous people has never existed.
"We want to present our proposals. Last week, we were in Imperatriz and the people from Funasa did not turn up.
Since they would not go and speak to us, we have come to them and if necessary, we will go to Brasília," said Lourenço,
leader of the Krikati people.
According to the leaders, the Indigenous People’s Special Sanitary District (DSEI) set up by Funasa in 1999 to plan
and organize health services for the people in the states is inoperative in Maranhão and in their list of demands that they are
asking to be delivered to the president of the organization the immediate dismissal of the current heads of DSEI and Funasa is requested.
They also demand the establishment of local councils which would respect the different cultures of the indigenous
people, DSEI to be granted administrative, budgetary and financial autonomy for actions involving the health of the indigenous
people, continuous training and qualification of the professionals involved, respecting the indigenous cultures and the
immediate freeing up of financial resources for the current health plans that are more than five months behind in their payments.
In the document sent to the president of Funasa, the indigenous people demand his presence and state that they will
not leave the headquarters until they have a definite reply from the organization.
"We can’t take it a week longer, with things the way they are", said Zequinha Guajajara, vice-president of the
Indigenous People’s of Maranhão Organization and Coordination Committee.
The proposal for the camp came about in the meeting in Imperatriz that brought together 150 indigenous leaders
from all over the state over the period from 20 to 22 October, when an extensive list of proposals to be presented to
various organizations responsible for indigenous issues was discussed.
World Court for Crimes Against Indians
During the launch of the book "Human Rights: Challenges and Perspectives", held in the Cultural Center of Brasília,
Dom Tomás Balduíno challenged those present with the following question: "Why is there no international court for judging
crimes against indigenous people, similar to that which is being set up to judge crimes of property?"
By following up on this suggestion, the indigenous people and their allies will be able to be protected and it will be
used to effectively condemn crimes committed against the indigenous people, in view of the fact that, this year alone, 23
indigenous people have been assassinated.
At the same event, deputy Orlando Fantazzini, representative of São Paulo state for the PT (Workers’ Party),
president of the House of Deputies Human Rights Committee, was shocked by the hate that was being propagated, especially by
the media, towards the indigenous people and Cimi. The Committee has just completed its 5th Human Rights Caravan,
which visited seven indigenous lands in various regions of the country.
During the Seminar on "Cooperation in Times of Change", held this week in Brasília, the ex-deputy, Plínio de
Arruda Sampaio, also expressed his concern about the direction that the Lula government was taking with respect to the
indigenous people. Sampaio voiced his conviction of the symbolic importance of the fight of the people from the perspective of
changes and transformations in the present system.
Cimi is Brazil’s Indianist Missionary Council, an organization linked to CNBB, National Conference of
Brazilian Bishops. You can get in touch with them by sending an email to