Yanomamis live humanitarian catastrophe, says new president of Funai


About 15 days before the end of her mandate as a federal deputy and officially assuming the presidency of Funai (National Foundation of Indigenous Peoples), lawyer Joenia Wapichana (Rede-RR) assesses that the Yanomami are experiencing a “humanitarian catastrophe” as a result factors such as the expansion of illegal mining and environmental degradation.

According to Joenia, who spoke to Sheet before the declaration of a public health emergency in the indigenous territory, the resumption of demarcations and the security of indigenous areas in the Amazon depend on a task force between Lula’s ministries and financial resources beyond what is foreseen in the foundation’s budget in 2023.

“We will need a task force between ministries to promote the demarcation and removal of invaders from territories, priorities for the peoples”, he says.

Without an official appointment, scheduled for February 5, Joenia is experiencing a kind of transition in the body, whose annulment during the Bolsonaro government resulted in violence and death against indigenous people and persecution of those who acted in defense of their rights. At Funai and among indigenous peoples, the current climate is one of optimism.

Thus, the deputy was received at the autarchy headquarters by servants, on January 2, in the symbolic retaking of the building by the indigenous people and indigenists. At the time, the change of name of the agency was announced, formerly called the National Indian Foundation — a term today seen by leaders as prejudiced and stigmatized.

Employees who denounced persecution in the past administration, for fulfilling their obligations, were heard again and the headquarters received indigenous leaders from different regions of the country in recent days.

The departure of Bolsonaristas is not the only milestone of the new management. Never in history has Funai had an indigenous person in the presidency and the indication that the indigenous people themselves will occupy key positions in regional structures.

The challenge of demarcations is a priority and urgent, according to the deputy, but it is not the only one. Joenia points to the process of disintrusion and maintenance of the security of these populations as the factor involving several fronts and the government’s political will.

Demarcated indigenous lands also suffer violence and invasions, which result in deaths, as is the case of the Yanomami, in Roraima and Amazonas. The estimation of indigenists is that there are about 20 thousand invaders in the territory.

“The case of the Yanomami is a humanitarian catastrophe. There, the invasion of prospectors led to a high level of violence, conflicts and environmental degradation, which affects health with the issue of mercury contamination”, she says.

Still according to Joenia, “regularization based on removals is important. A government task force will be needed that will deal not only with the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples. It requires the action of several fronts such as the Ministry of Justice, with the security force; Ministry of the Environment to curb and reverse environmental damage because we have to think about mitigations”.

She assesses that Funai’s budget today is insufficient to guarantee what the Amazon demands, especially in territories marked by conflicts and the influence of drug trafficking. The Javari Valley, in the triple border region (Brazil, Peru and Colombia) where the English journalist Dom Phillips and the indigenist Bruno Pereira were brutally murdered, for example, is considered the second largest entry of cocaine into Brazil.

“It is necessary to strengthen Funai’s existing structures and staff in these regions, such as the protection fronts for isolated peoples and those with recent contact. in the Amazon that demands a more efficient and continuous work from us”, he said.

On Monday (16), Joenia spoke at the event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the CIR (Indigenous Council of Roraima), the birthplace of her legal and political career.

Joenia was the first indigenous lawyer to make an oral argument in the STF in defense of the historic demarcation of Raposa Serra do Sol. The future president of Funai explained to the “relatives” the difficulty of Funai’s staff and budget, asking them to support and unite so that everyone advances in the conquest of rights.

Joenia said that the invitation to her was made by President Lula in the presence of indigenous leaders from the Amazon and accepted under conditions: witnessed by the leaders: autonomy and work structure.

“I didn’t want to accept the invitation alone. Do you know why? If I don’t have working conditions, if I don’t have autonomy… and I don’t want political interference. I want the government’s support to continue this mission of an autarchy that is four or seven years off,” he said, adding that Lula affirmed his commitment to indigenous peoples.

Joenia communicated to the indigenous assembly that Bolsonaristas who attacked indigenous rights were exonerated from commissioned positions. He also said that the autarchy will not become a job hanger for indigenous people. “We need technical hires.” She was applauded.

“Imagine, the people who work at Funai have responsibility for areas that represent 14% of our country. It depends on a good performance because they deal with lives, indigenous life. If they do not fulfill their institutional functions, we put people’s lives at risk. We have seen over the past four years,” he says.

For the future president of the organ, Funai will now undergo “a new beginning”.

“It’s a reconstruction to arrive here at the National Foundation for Indigenous Peoples. The name itself is a change, in the sense that it brings the participation and return of indigenous peoples to Funai. There is a willingness and change of public servants to include and not exclude . In the past, the doors were closed. It is a change for the better, in the sense of resuming obligations.”

You May Also Like

Recommended for you

Immediate Peak