The Milan-based daily Avvenire, owned by the Italian Bishops’ Conference, has published a long and biased article about the new Brazilian president and the situation of the Indians.
The article mentions violent attacks on agents of FUNAI (the National Indian Foundation). Although such attacks are reprehensible, and their real perpetrators must be identified and punished, the article presents them as if they were consequences of the rise to power of Jair Bolsonaro, deemed “far right.”
It is interesting to quote some excerpts to show how it distorts the truth. Amid some dusty eco-Marxist arguments, we do find a few “pearls.”
The article claims that President Bolsonaro has called indigenous reservations ‘animal zoos’, when in fact he said: “Nobody wants to mistreat the Indian. In Bolivia, we have an Indian who is president. Why do we have, in Brazil, to keep them in reservations as if they were animals in zoos? The Indian is a human being just like us.”
The newspaper also said that “integrating” Indians with the rest of society was a “term used by the last military dictatorship, and one associated with the systematic extermination of indigenous people.”
The article ends with a dramatic quote, “The Amazon is the lung of Brazil and the world,” a claim refuted by any serious scientist, no matter how radical he might be.
There would be a lot more to say, but to spare the readers’ time we will just recall the Eighth Commandment of God’s Law, which cannot be ignored by the mouthpiece of the Italian Bishops’ Conference: ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness.’
The Bolsonaro Era Suddenly Falls upon Brazil’s Natives
Lucia Capuzzi, in Atalaia do Norte (Brazil) Saturday, December 29, 2018
The new president, of the extreme right, will be sworn in on January 1; he has already declared that he does not intend to respect the territories of local populations. And one is already shooting to kill.
It happened a week ago. At dawn on December 21, a commando attacked the base camp of the National Indigenous Foundation (Funai) — a government agency responsible for protecting the natives — located on the Ituí and Itacoaí rivers. The news, however, has remained trapped in the labyrinth of water and jungle that winds for 85 thousand kilometers along the border between Brazil and Peru. Impermeable to high-tech globalization, the Javarí Valley is one of the most inaccessible parts of the Amazon. …
To reach the Valley, one needs to leave behind the amber waters of Rio Solimões – as Brazilians call the first stretch of the Amazon River – where the nearest town, Tabatinga, is located. Only after a three-hour stretch by boat and car, and waiting in between, we arrive at its gateway, Atalaia do Norte – provided the road is not flooded by rain. At any rate, from there you need to navigate for at least three days on the Javarí River to enter into what discouraged conquerors renamed «emporium of evils». If the mix of insects, disease and isolation was able to make the life of newcomers unbearable, the place’s enormous natural riches – fish, animals, oil, gold, coca – attracted them like a magnet.
While the legal barrier has never stopped “hunters of raw materials,” the attack on Funai represents a “quality leap”. … The fact is that they feel supported by the new president. It is only the beginning of the ‘Bolsonaro effect’.
The positions expressed by Jair Bolsonaro before and after the election are of great concern to the natives and those who defend their rights. The leader of the ultra-right makes no secret of his impatience towards “Shiite indigenism”. And to prove it, he has removed Funai from the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice and incorporated it into the one for Equal Opportunities, Family and Human Rights. “This will end the fines and easy sanctions,” he emphasized.
Just a few weeks ago, he compared the lands for exclusive use of the natives to “zoos for animals”. And he reiterated his intention to “integrate them,” a term used by the last military dictatorship and associated with the systematic extermination of the natives. In 1985, after twenty-one years of the regime, one hundred thousand of them remained.
Interested parties – including landowners, local entrepreneurs and multinationals – are not lacking. Damare Alves — the evangelical new minister on whom the Funai will depend — has also suggested the need for a drastic policy change regarding the isolated Indians. That is to say, the norm that allows the latter, since 1980, to be contacted only if they request it. The Funai responded with an open letter expressing alarm. “We are especially concerned about our isolated brothers — concludes Raimuno Iuí, a cacique from the Kanamarí community of Terra Nova. They do not know politics. How can they defend themselves? We can. We have abandoned the arrows and have started fighting in the courts. We will therefore do what we have always done: resist. We are not just fighting for ourselves. The Amazon is the lung of Brazil and of the world.”