Brazilian Indians Take Over National Health Foundation Building in Protest

As a means to protest against the precarious indigenous health care being provided in the Vale do Javari area, in northern Brazil, which is described as completely chaotic by indigenous leaders in the region, Indians have occupied the Funasa (National Health Foundation) building in the region.

Over 100 Marubo, Mayoruna, Matis, Kanamari and Kulina indigenous people are taking part in the occupation operation, which started Saturday, October 15. The Funasa building is in Atalaia do Norte, state of Amazonas.

The occupation is also meant to protest against the designation of a relative of the local mayor to the position of coordinator of the Indigenous Health Care District. The new coordinator, colonel Cláudio Gomes, is also seen as a person indigenous people cannot trust because of his discriminatory statements and political position against the indigenous cause.

The Indigenous Council of Vale do Javari (Civaja) presented documents confirming that the city hall misapplied public funds earmarked for the Program to Encourage Primary Health Care to Indigenous Peoples and the Basic Health Surveillance Actions Program, both of which are linked to the National Health Fund. The amount spent irregularly totals US$ 98,000 (222.000 reais) over the past six months.

According to the coordinator of Civaja, Jorge Duarte Marubo, there is only one doctor available for over 3,000 indigenous people living on the banks of four rivers in 37 communities scattered in an area of more than eight million hectares.

Jorge Marubo said that he health professionals should stay in the area for 45 days visiting the communities. "Because of the low water volume in the rivers, it is now more difficult to reach the communities. The health professionals spend about 25 days traveling and they have less time to take care of the sick."

Marubo believes that over half the indigenous population in the Vale do Javari area (3,215 people) has been infected with malaria or viral hepatitis (based on information provided by Coiab).

Also…

– Eight farmers accused of involvement in the death of the Guarani chief Guarani Nhandeva Dorival Benites, 36, during conflicts which occurred when the Sombrerito land was reoccupied by indigenous people, have been arrested. According to the Dourados Agora website, they were taken in preventive custody because of their contradictory depositions.

– Indigenous people from all over Brazil are getting ready to attend the Popular Assembly: Self-Help Actions for a New Brazil, which will be held in Brasí­lia on October 25-28. Two buses will bring participants from rural areas of the state of Pernambuco, nine people will be brought by bus from Manaus and Guarani representatives will come from the state of São Paulo. More information can be found at www.assembleiapopular.com.br

Cimi – Indianist Missionary Council – www.cimi.org.br

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