Brazil Spends More with Indians, But They Still Have No Voice

An analysis of specific actions in favor of indigenous peoples in the Brazilian budget for the 2000-2005 period showed that the spending of the federal public administration grew, but the resources earmarked for demarcating and protecting indigenous territories were reduced.

This type of investment is considered "strategic to ensure the social and economic sustainability of these peoples" by the author of the analysis, researcher Ricardo Verdum from the Institute for Socioeconomic Studies (Inesc).

The period which was evaluated comprises the three last years of the administration of ex-president Fernando Henrique Cardoso and the three first years of the Lula administration.

In real figures, that is, in figures adjusted according to the inflation rate, the budget for indigenous peoples amounted to US$ 66.13 million (144.75 million reais) in 2000, was close to US$ 114 million (250 million reais) between 2001 and 2003, increased to US$ 140.75 million (308.1 million reais) in 2003, and hit the mark of US$ 157.85 million (345.46 million reais) in 2005.

During these six years, the study shows that different federal departments were assigned to implement indigenous policies and that this distribution resulted in "fragmentation and lack of coordination among the actions."

The analysis also shows that the participation of indigenous people in the management of public policies remained in the paper.

"An agency is lacking to articulate the policies and issue general guidelines. This is the idea behind proposals such as the one to create the National Indigenous Policy Council. And indigenous people are yet to participate in the definition of programs, define if we will reissue the old integrationist policy, which is now being combined with a social inclusion discourse, or if we will have something new, aimed at ensuring the autonomy of indigenous communities to define policies in tune with their needs," Verdum said in an interview.

Contradicting the trend toward an increase in total expenses, the study showed that the spending with the demarcation of indigenous lands actually decreased: the highest investment was made in 2001, when expenses amounted to R$ 67.138 million.

From then on, they dropped to US$ 30.57 million (53.323 million reais) in 2002; US$ 23.31 million (51.034 million reais) in 2003; US$ 21.87 million (47.870 million reais in 2004); and US$ 19.41 million (42.496 million reais) in 2005. In the 2006 budget, the same trend was observed, as US$ 19.2168 million (42.081 million reais) have been earmarked for the same set of actions.

"There was, in this case, a marked reduction in investments and in the pace of activities, which must certainly be related to commitments made by the federal administration in relation to the so-called strategic sectors for generating primary surpluses – particularly the capital invested in agribusiness – to the point of slowing down and even stalling the demarcation of indigenous lands," says the publication, issued in June 2006.

The analysis of public spending also shows that despite an increase in expenses to support projects for generating economic alternatives for the indigenous population, the practical results are still "falling short of the expectations," because, among other reasons, the core demands of the indigenous movement, such as having access to credit lines, have not been complied with appropriately yet.

Of the total of investments, which amount to about 1.5 billion reais (US$ 690 million), 64.5% were expenses with indigenous health prevention, control and recovery actions under the responsibility of the National Health Foundation (Funasa).

With respect to health care, the analysis of how the budget was spent ends with some questions: "Considering the constant invasions of Funasa offices in the states by indigenous people; the reports of the use of the administrative apparatus for political purposes and the embezzlement of public funds; the strikes of its staff; relationship problems between the technical experts hired by the agency and indigenous people; the persistence of serious health problems, such as among the Guarani and the Xavante, and the worsening of health problems among the Yanomami, the authorities should urgently evaluate what is causing this situation despite the increase in the financial resources earmarked in the budget for addressing it."

Silence Against Impunity

A silent demonstration staged in the streets of Cabrobó, state of Pernambuco, recalled the murder of Adenilson dos Santos Vieira and of Jorge dos Santos Barros, members of the Truká people.

On June 30, over one thousand people carried banners in memory of the indigenous warriors who were executed by military police officers of the state of Pernambuco one year ago.

So far, the investigations into the murders have not been concluded. The act organized by the Truká was a protest against impunity and intimidatory actions which the leaders of this people have been facing.

Despite the tense climate and the distrust prevailing in the city, the silent and peaceful demonstration showed that those who thought it would be a violent and provocative demonstration were wrong.

Besides representatives of the Truká indigenous people, representatives from the Landless Movement (MST), the Land Pastoral Commission (CPT), the Luiz Freire Cultural Center (CCLF), the National Human Rights Movement (MNDH), the Fishermen’s Pastoral (CPP), and Cimi participated in the demonstration.

Cimi – Indianist Missionary Council

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