‘ Ordinance of AGU is an act of violence against the indigenous ‘, says anthropologist


‘ Ordinance of AGU is an act of violence against the indigenous ‘, says anthropologist

In an interview with the newspaper criticism, João Pacheco de Oliveira, one of the leading names of Brazilian anthropology talks about measures which, according to him, are contrary to the rights of indigenous peoples

Manaus, October 14, 2012


Anthropologist João Pacheco de Oliveira (JOHN KELLY/UNCRITICAL)

One of the main names of Brazilian anthropology and Ethnology mandatory reference, João Pacheco de Oliveira, since research began with the people in ticuna Alto Solimões, for more than 30 years, never ceased to have relationships with Amazon and the Amazon in particular.

Professor of National Museum (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro), Ochiai develops some time exchanges with teachers and students of anthropology and education at the Federal University of Amazonas (Ufam) and at the Universidade do Estado do Amazonas (UEA).

Engagement with social movements as anthropologist is one of the main brands of his long academic career, whose lawsuit seeks to give voice to the excluded groups, such as indigenous, quilombolas and traditional peoples.

At the Academy, João Pacheco de Oliveira develops research not only as indigenous to the Amazon rainforest. In a pioneering initiative along with other anthropologists conducts studies on the indigenous presence in the Northeast, considered a group by then extinct and with little space in the public sphere. Was guiding (MSC) by Roberto Cardoso de Oliveira and Otávio (PhD), two of the most prominent anthropologists in the country.

Last September, John Pacheco de Oliveira was on two moments in Manaus, teaching the course “Antrologia of Territory” in the graduate program in Social Anthropology, Federal University of Amazonas (Ufam), in an Exchange with the research group of professors Kenneth Ortolano and Thereza Menezes. The course will still have a third module.

In the range of one of the modules, João Pacheco de Oliveira received the newspaper criticism for an interview in which he talked about emerging themes of Indian tariff (or, for a lot of people “anti-Indian agenda”), as the proposed constitutional amendment (PEC) 215, which proposes changes in the process of demarcation of indigenous lands, the Decree 303 of the Attorney General of the Union (AGU), which established criteria of expertise in indigenous lands (considered an affront by the Indians of their rights), the hydroelectric plants in the Amazon and what he calls a “genocide” of the guarani people-kaiwó, Mato Grosso do Sul. Read the interview: 

Question-there is a critique of the indigenous movement and its allies to rousseff’s management in relation to indigenous policy. You share this assessment?

Reply-it is important to remember that there have been advances, but there are many problems that need to be resolved. What I feel today is that there is little dialogue from the point of view of the Government with the forces that represent the indigenous movement. It has always existed. I came to work with reinforced door, with Indian not entering, passing through security and, at the time of the military dictatorship. What is missing, then, is a scene of dialogue. 

Question-do you think this is not dialogue becomes a contradiction within the sphere of a Government that identifies itself as democratic and left-wing?

Reply-I think the Funai (National Indian Foundation) is not strong enough to penetrate the nucleus of power and to expose the arguments and present the problem. And the Ministry of Justice also is not giving the support that would be important. As for being left-wing Government, it is a bit concerning because, in fact, is a Government of very heterogeneous forces. It is a Government of coalition. Rousseff, while candidate, perhaps placed leftmost why José Serra came with a neoliberal proposal in relation to the dismantling of the State. 

Question-So you believe that there were even great expectations for the Government of Dilma?I refer to the indigenous peoples and other traditional communities.

Reply-the election of Lula in 2002 was a time of expectation far greater than rousseff. Rousseff was elected on the basis of a policy of social mechanisms that managed to penetrate some areas of poverty that were the strongest support base on the right. From the point of view of the Indians, we are very concerned. From a human point of view, land demarcation and conflict the biggest problem we have today is the guarani-kaiowá in Mato Grosso do Sul. It is a population that is suffering a real genocide. Long disruption due to the terrible situation they are going through. 

Question-what do you think of the measures laid down by Ordinance 303 which was signed last July by Attorney General Luis Inacio Lucena Adams?

Reply-the lawyer Adams managed to join in everything that is worst in relation to indigenous law. Gathered all the holes and all interpretations and turned everything in jurisprudence. 

Question-how is it harmful to indigenous peoples?

Reply-This Ordinance is an act of violence, an act of insanity. Is harmful in all topics. There is a topic that is favourable to the Indians. First, it redistributes the competence. The Indians who are in overlapping areas, shall be administered by the ICMBio (Chico Mendes biodiversity conservation Institute). Is an absurd thing. There has been no preparation in this regard. The ICMBio has no technical staff, lacks of experience. It was a completely arbitrary measure. The arguments that does about the presence of Armed Forces within the indigenous areas reveals a total ignorance. There has never been a ban on armed forces enter in indigenous areas. What has always been argued Funai is that there are conditions to be made. Funai needs to be informed, needs to have the presence of indigenous leaders, there must be a connection in the Exchange that will be when the forces roam the area in some action of military interest. 

Question-what are the consequences of this Ordinance to the rights of indigenous peoples?

Reply-She picks up all the negative points that have been mentioned in recent years and puts in relation to indigenous peoples. All major items of the Constitution of 1988, with many victories, a series of advances, everything was replaced by AGU. This is completely pointless because he (the author) not consulted the legal knowledge source within the State in relation to the indigenous issue, that is the Funai or the Ministry of justice. Whom he attended? He made an action of his own proper way? 

Question-is there an evaluation within the social movement that the measure meets a specific sector, that of the “ruralists”. The Lord agrees?

Reply-the only demonstration in favour of the ruling was made by Senator Katia Abreu (principal leadership of Congress “ruralist”), saying that it was a series of lucid measures in relation to Indians. I can’t understand how this man operates in this way. The AGU does not exist to protect the National Farmers Confederation. It exists to protect the State, to act in line with the right of the citizen. Shoulda heard the Attorney General’s Office, have been informed. What is surprising is that the attitude of the State towards so misguided measure was a mild attitude. Funai, Ministry of Justice, the General Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic, had meeting with the President of AGU and the only concrete solution given was the temporary suspension of the Ordinance, while should be immediately suspended and become like a real misconception in Adams’s career as a lawyer. Or he acted very badly, so hasty, without consulting the who should, or followed completely contrary to indigenous interests. In both cases, the situation is very worrying. Imagine the discomfort of Funai, the General Secretariat of the Presidency, of its own diplomacy, which was negotiating to indigenous participation in discussions of prior consent and this whole process got hit. 

Question-another measure that has been causing concern to indigenous peoples is the PEC 215, which proposes changes in the process of demarcation of indigenous lands. One is the transfer of this attribution of Funai for the National Congress. Why is that worrying?

Reply-This is a misguided proposal, complete insanity. Congress has no indigenous apparatus to act. However, the proposer puts that demarcation decisions will be taken in Congress. How will he Act? I think that is a proposal that will be desmoralizadora for the Congress. And will not be able to constitute a reasonable State in these interventions. The organ that makes what is Funai, has already know. I only see the possible impact that within a species of electoral bargaining.

A legislative body does not function to decide about this sort of thing. Have to draw up the laws. What Congress can do is to bring the process as it occurs, but do not decide on a case by case basis. There are more than 200 indigenous lands in processing in Funai. Then Congress paralyze all its activities to decide only on tribal lands? 

Question-let’s talk about the indigenous movement. There is a thought that he is demobilized, which organizations are disrupted …

Reply-the demobilization of social movements is a general situation. I think Amazon is not specific and not of the indigenous movement. There are more difficult to mobilize, to be manifestations of the streets. But I think also on occasion if it managed to do important things. In the Rio + 20, there was a hug to BNDES done by more than 2 thousand Indians. A wonderful, peaceful activity done to warn the wrong action they are having in financing the Belo Monte project. The press just published a photo of a native with a bow and arrow and a uniformed security from BNDES. Everything is summarized. The Indian was used as a folkloric object. But the demonstration was legitimate, and very well organized. The BANK asked for new hearings, discussions. The idea is to make the BNDES rethink their funding. 

Question – On the Belo Monte dam, do you think that the venture (hydroelectric) can still be suspended?

Reply-there is now a fight made in court by Federal and State public ministries, para. They have filed an action in the Inter-American Court of human rights. The situation is that Brazil is proceeding in a manner extremely accelerated, without listening to the Indians and declares that they are practicing the query. What happened on the part of Funai was not an appointment. Just an info on the works that would happen. The case of Belo Monte, the most worrying is the fact that the Indians were contacted without a clear vision of the real impacts. There was talk that would have a barrage, but did not mention that part would be flooded, what were the losses. The compensatory studies have not been completed. So in truth, things are being pushed at a pace that is of interest to the company and your winnings. Is not allowing to recognize the rights of affected populations. The arguments that have been made since the period Lula would be that the Indians would be respected in their rights, they would be indemnified. But that’s not what’s happening. At the pace that the joint venture is being played does not allow this to happen. 

Question-Recently, a representative group of indigenous people affected by the work presented a list of objects that would be compensation for damage caused by the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant. This list was the target of criticism on the part of the company and some sectors of the press. By appearing, she was ignored. You learned about this fact?

Response – people have an idea about the Indian folk completely. Think Indian doesn’t eat, doesn’t wear clothes. It lives exclusively as a spirit into the Woods, naked. This list of claim was drafted by the Indians in a very serious movement. They met for the first time several ethnic groups who live in the area. In the past some of them fought enemy, but which were now came together to discuss ways less negative. They tried to create a channel of negotiation. The evaluations that the Indians make are enormous errors regarding plans and very large impacts. The studies were not well done, finished. The scholars of ecology are critical. Only if you think corporate profits and not think on social impacts and not in concrete scaling that will be. 

Question – the federal Government instituted this year, the Truth Commission to investigate human rights violations during the military dictatorship. Why is it important, in its assessment, also include the investigation of disappearance of indigenous peoples at that time?

Reply-Have the case of the waimiri-atroari in Amazonas, and during the Rio + 20, this demand was presented by the xavante Indians from Mato Grosso. The xavante were removed by aircraft of the Brazilian air force (Força Aérea Brasileira) during that period. I think it is not a question only of knowing who was the operator of that action, but who led the AIR FORCE to act that way, remove, that interest it represents. It would be an important calculation to be made. 

Question – in addition to the disappearance of several indigenous peoples, which were other losses caused by these removals, and these actions during the dictatorship?

Answers-many of the territorial losses that the Indians have today are linked to these spurious actions. The very structure of Funai just welcoming a number of soldiers in the late 70 and had power. They controlled provinces, regional development projects. This should be determined. It is an area that the President Rousseff promised to act to clean the Brazilian history. Among other things, the indigenous history needs to be passed in the clear. 

Question – the 2010 Census showed a significant population growth of indigenous peoples. How can we understand the context of this growth?

Reply-the Census shows the Indians as permanent part of Brazil, present in all areas. The Indians are not only concentrated in the Amazon. The presence in more than half of Brazilian municipalities. There are people who claim to be indigenous in all parts. Is an important process of rethinking history of national education, to recognize the right of people who were blacklisted. I think that the indigenous question in Brazil is always worked as a minor residual folk. It is not. The question is associated to the very formation of Brazilian nationality. The whole Brazil is Indian land. They are present throughout the country’s history. The expulsion of the Dutch to the preservation of the border. The history of Brazil is that was very Eurocentric in you want to shut down the 16 century natives. 

Question-what are the works that the Lord continues to develop in the Amazon?

Reply-I’m currently participating in a course of exchange within the Ufam. I’m giving the first modules and turned regularly. I have a very special relationship with Amazon. I have followed the work of the UEA in relation to indigenous higher education and the work of the Degree Intercultural dialogue. Last year ended a piece made for the Ticuna language along with the overall organization of the Ticuna Teachers bilingual (MISSBEXIEGIRL) on indigenous education. 

Question – I would like to comment on the simplistic discourse that “many Indians are no longer Indians” because they are not in their villages or “not walk naked”. I realize too that in journalism, where I work as a professional.

Reply-this is nonsense. Today no longer exists this type of criteria. Is indigenous who judged Indian and have a community that acknowledges meanwhile. Is a collective process. The function of the State is acknowledging. Part of our contemporaneity. Therefore, today. A society that does not live a single standard. There is the recognition of differences. 

Who is John Pacheco de Oliveira

The anthropologist is a native of Rio de Janeiro and is professor at the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). He was President of the Brazilian Association of Anthropology (ABA) and is currently Coordinator of the Committee on Indian Affairs of the entity. He is the author of a vast bibliography, among them “our Government: the ticuna and the tutelary arrangements” and “the trip back: ethnicity, politics and cultural redevelopment of the Indian Northeast”. During the process of drafting the Constitution of 1988, was one of the most active collaborators of parliamentarians and advisors. He was one of the founders of the Center for indigenous rights (NDI) along with Ailton Krenak, Marcio Santilli, Beto Ricardo and Gilberto Azanha. In addition to partnerships with the Ufam, as lecturer, also developed work at Universidade do Estado do Amazonas (UEA) during the course of Degree between the ticuna Indian and cocama in the municipality of Tabatinga.




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