Relatório Figueiredo. “Examination of conscience of how Brazil handled and treats the indigenous peoples”. Special interview with Spensy Pimentel

Friday, May 17, 2013 

Relatório Figueiredo. “Examination of conscience of how Brazil handled and treats the indigenous peoples”. Special interview with Spensy Pimentel

 

“How to create the possibility to listen constantly the indigenous peoples on a space as the Congress? If we depend on solely a dispute of votes in direct election, it will be difficult, “says anthropologist.
Check out the interview.

“The departure of the Minister Gleisi Hoffman to Congress last week, announcing a review of the way in which they are demarcated indigenous lands, points out a worsening of the crisis,” says Spensy Pimentel to IHU on-line, in an interview by e-mail. For the anthropologist, transfer responsibility of the process of demarcation of indigenous lands in Mato Grosso do Sul to Embrapa is not a solution. “At a time like this, what needs to be made clear is that Funai needs to be, and backed and supported, strengthened. What cannot occur is that it is emptied. It is not a question of removing powers of Funai, it give her meet the role that should meet and put other organs to help her, “he says. And raises: “even though Funai had the budget and human resources to do what has to be done, she would need a political support that is beyond your reach. The Presidency of the Republic and the Ministry of Justice to assume its responsibility “.
In the evaluation of Spensy Pimentel, although the Brazilian State, through the National Commission of truth, have initiated a review of Indian historiography, “in its eagerness to promote the development, there is still a lot of difficulty to dialogue with indigenous peoples when it comes to lead projects to regions where they are present. We need to look past to try to do differently. It is not possible to build power plants in the Tapajós and Xingu as Itaipu was built, without the slightest respect for indigenous peoples “.
In the following interview, Spensy Pimentel also comments report developments Figueiredo, drawn up between 1967 and 1968, documenting cases of torture and slave labor between the indigenous Brazilians during the military dictatorship. “Documents how the Figueiredo Report may be important for the country to rethink, so that we make an examination of conscience with regard to how the Brazil came and still comes to the indigenous peoples”, points out.
Spensy Pimentel Ph.d. and master’s degree in Social Anthropology from the University of São Paulo – USP, where he graduated in journalism.
Check out the interview.   IHU on-line what is Figueiredo report and what are the main allegations made in it?

Spensy Pimentel-in short, we could say that is a report made between 1967 and 1968 by an official of the Ministry of the Interior, after the Minister’s order to investigate repeated allegations that were made in the press and in the middle of political problems in the Indian protection service-SPI. To such an extent that set of complaints reflected that the SPI was disbanded, and in its place if you created the National Indian Foundation Funai.
But to say this is to say very little, actually. I think we’re still understanding what is the Figueiredo Report and what are its consequences. We need to move in a broader understanding of what was all this investigation and denunciation of the abuses of the old SPI over the years 1960. How has reflected the researcher Marcelo Zelic, of Torture never again, which has been the promoter of this copy of the document that was found, the whole thing started with a CPI, the Government still Jango, but after the 1964 coup hurt the progress of public discussion as to what was going on. It’s time to resume this conversation, find people who participated in it and who are still alive, to better understand all this.

IHU on-line the Figueiredo report points out, specifically, in relation to the protection of the Indians SPI?
Spensy Pimentel-it should be noted that, regardless of “fulanizar” the discussion, to think the report as a set of nominal charges, administrative purpose, we have an account of someone who visited more than 130 indigenous stations at the time, during a trip that toured various regions of the country. This is sufficiently representative, it seems to me, to see recurrent traits that define, as a whole, an act of the State at the time in relation to indigenous peoples.
The staff acted as acted by personal inclination, simply. It is not localized, isolated problems. What happened at that time was that the country looked in the mirror, she realized what had been the result of a nefarious project that had begun with a humanistic tone, with the figure of the Marechal Rondon, and that had come out completely of course.
And more: perhaps people have had the opportunity to realize that the humanist “impulse” that had founded the SPI was a misconception, because, often, was linked to a project to transform the Indian, civilizá it, “improve it” (what I wanted to say: make it equal to us), instead of being a project to reach these others who are indigenous peoples to know them andthrough this contact, we ourselves change.
In addition, of course, there are important evidence in that document on various claims and cases of violence that may help better understand the size of the debt the country has with various indigenous peoples.

IHU on-line Scholars of the issue stated that the Fontenot Report can serve to correct historical injustices. In what sense this tends to happen and, from it, will be rediscutida in relation to indigenous historiography?
Spensy Pimentel-firstly, the report is an opportunity to discuss again the historiography of the military regime as a whole. It is clear that repression in the countryside, in the forest, away from the cities, was the “other side of the coin” of the dictatorship. In large cities, opponents were silent. But, what many of these opponents – often, journalists, researchers, etc. – would reveal if they had opportunity? Precisely the kind of barbarism we see in the report: abuses that were committed in the name of civilization, development, progress, everything that was at the heart of the ideology imposed by the military.
There are, of course, several cases in which you will be able to help not only this, but several others that surely will come to light with the discussions provided by the National Commission of truth. For now, it’s time to study the reports and find the mentioned indigenous groups to better understand the complaints, that for a long time, have been stifled.
For example, as I have come to the fore, there are lands in the Pantanal kadiweu, which had been granted by Dom Pedro II as a reward for the support of indigenous peoples in Paraguay war – most of them was taken with the connivance of corrupt officials, and the document may be able to help prove it in court.
Guarani
There are issues such as the Guarani which are on the coast of the Southeast: the document shows many complaints about torture, humiliation and forced labor in Paraná and indigenous southern region in General. With this type of information, we can better understand which was the sense of many of these Indians move to the woods of the Serra do Mar: they were fleeing a situation of oppression.
We have so many cases of Guarani who had to flee the country, crossing the border to Paraguay or Argentina, in order to escape the persecution that was moved by farmers and by public agents. Absurdly, today, when they, or their children, return to the country to recover their rights, are accused of being foreigners.
In the end, documents how the Figueiredo Report may be important for the country to rethink, so that we make an examination of conscience with regard to how the Brazil came and still comes to the indigenous peoples.
We already had, in the last 25 years, a small revolution in the form of treating black issue. The thesis of “racial democracy”, a “friendly” slavery is increasingly a museum piece. Blacks have been winning more and more spaces in Brazilian society.
Still, however, I think, that the country stop to rethink the issue. For example, it is still very common for people to learn that the indigenous slavery was not something significant in our history. Indigenous peoples were, Yes, victims of forced labour – and, by the way, in many regions, have its workforce operated in such a terrible way. See, for example, the various supervisory operations that saw indigenous people working in conditions analogous to slavery in the sugar and ethanol mills in Mato Grosso do Sul. It is no coincidence that during the colonial period the natives were called “black earth” (as opposed to blacks who came from Africa).
Indigenous peoples are not a vestige of the past, they are part of our present, and it is with them that the country will build its future, that will be so much more bright as we have ability to include them, while people in this discussion about the future. Because, to provide a space for them in the future of the country, we are broadening our perspective of the world, we are creating a world where they can fit many worlds, to use an image proposed by the Mexican indigenous movement.

IHU on-line what is the national and international repercussions of the discovery of the Figueiredo Report? The information is that he is almost intact after 45 years.
Spensy Pimentel-for now, as I said, the scholars are still accessing the document to see what is new. In any case, the discovery of the report, of course, attracts attention of the press, of younger researchers, and this can be positive so that we have a new breath in the study of this subject. (There are thousands of pages, making takes a lot of dedication.)
This is crucial because we must not miss the indignation with what is pictured here. Above all, don’t miss the indignation of nitpicking, of minor issues. One cannot descredenciar the document because of an accusation of corruption which cannot be proved, when it brings dozens of accusations of torture, sexual violence, slavery which can be easily proven by the testimony, the memory of hundreds of indigenous people scattered around the country.

IHU on-line What are the elements to a political theory and guarani kaiowá and where it is?
Spensy Pimentel-This is the subject of my doctoral thesis. The idea was to investigate how the Kaiowa and Guarani think and act in relation to what we call “policy”. I sought to understand the meaning of the action of leaders, shamans – this part of the study can be found in the video “Mbaraka-the word that acts” – especially in movement Aty Guasu (great meeting), which is around the Organization of large assemblies, since the early 1980.
Although they have not earned much attention here in recent decades, the indigenous assemblies such as Aty Guasu are, since the first contacts with Europeans, a source of immense political learning. To that idea, the assemblies of the Iroquois League, in the 18th century, were a great source of inspiration for the debate on the Constitution of the United States.
A closer look at the indigenous movement can invigorate our thinking and our political practices-is what has happened in Mexico since the early 1990, from the zapatista uprising. The indigenous assemblies are important lessons on democracy and autonomy. The shamans also invite us to look at the environment differently, questioning this Western tendency to treat land, plants and animals as “natural resources”-as something that merely economic benefit is extracted. A warning to the relationship of indigenous peoples with their leaders may also be important that we asked about the passive, alienated, how we behave, often against our rulers.

IHU on-line While the National Truth Commission investigating crimes committed against indigenous peoples in the country, Brazilian parliamentarians suggest several proposals for amendment to the Constitution, such as the PEC 215, and the federal Government assumes a posture to ensure national development regardless of the occupation of the indigenous territories. As you can see this approach in the State in relation to the indigenous question?
Spensy Pimentel– the time is obviously very serious, as many have already said. It is a moment of deep crisis. I could do a lot of criticism, but that will not help solve the problems.
This is a new moment, in which Brazil is no longer the country poor, underdeveloped, to whom the United States or Europe could send “kneel on corn” due to some internal problem.
We have to go, right here, in Brazil, through a process of serious discussion about the country’s relationship with the indigenous peoples. Things are still very badly resolved.
The Brazilian State, in its eagerness to promote the development, still have much difficulty to dialogue with indigenous peoples when it comes to lead projects to regions where they are present. We need to look past to try to do differently. It is not possible to build power plants in Xingu or Tapajós as Itaipu was built, without the slightest respect for indigenous peoples.
There are also many skeletons in the closet when it comes to the land issue. Horrible injustices have been committed throughout the 20th century, it needs to be recognized. In places such as Mato Grosso do Sul-MS, the agricultural frontier advanced literally trampling people like the Guarani-Kaiowá .
It is not only the Government that needs to be charged, there are also business. Our agribusiness world today is a highlight, and it is not possible for companies – often, huge multinationals-are as insensitive to the need to resolve the land issue in places like MS. The climate of insecurity is not good for anyone, but it does not help the “ruralists” are treating the Indians as idiots, as if they were handled by anthropologists and indigenous “aligned with foreign interests” (when talking about this, I feel like at the time of the cold war, being accused of “Communist agent”).
Dialogue
Democracy is A permanent building process. People need to learn to talk. The most obvious signal that we need to enhance our dialogue with the indigenous peoples came that scene of the occupation of the plenary of the Congress by hundreds of leaders, a few weeks ago. We’re going to scare us and run, as those members did, at first?
You must include this type of challenge when discussing, for example, a political reform to the country. How to create the possibility to listen constantly the indigenous peoples on a space as the Congress? If we depend on solely a dispute of votes, in direct election, will be difficult. To date, only one, the xavante Mario Juruna, managed to be elected, in the years 1980-and was for one term, and to top it off, Rio de Janeiro, thanks to the proximity with the Darcy Ribeiro, not by Mato Grosso, home State.
IHU on-line in addition to recognize the historical injustices, which measures should be expected in the State?
Spensy Pimentel– the most urgent would face the critical situations, in terms of land, such as Mato Grosso do Sul, creating tables, including farmers and indigenous people. We’re all dealing with situations that were not built at the time of a Government; they are the result of decades of errors, omissions and violence.
In addition, in relation to projects that affect indigenous lands-in the Amazon, in particular –, there is an urgent need to establish dialogue as to what is provided for in Convention 169 of the ILO, which requires prior consultation to the populations affected by projects such as the hydroelectric plants. There is an agreement on how they should be carried out such consultation, and this very difficult situation. It’s not enough to pretend that the Convention does not exist – it was ratified by the Brazilian Congress in 2002 and then promulgated by presidential decree in 2004!
Also, we need more seriousness in the surveillance of the conditions that the companies take in these projects. The lack of commitment to this issue is completely undermining the process and generating increasingly radical postures, because desperate, due to the lack of dialogue, of indifference.

IHU on-line-how do you evaluate the latest developments around the indigenous question in Brazil, especially the possibility of Embrapa is responsible for demarcating indigenous lands in MS, and the attempt to empty the Funai?
Spensy Pimentel-the departure of the Minister Gleisi Hoffman  to Congress last week, announcing a review of the way in which they are demarcated indigenous lands, points out a worsening of the crisis that I was in one of the answers above.
At the moment, we are all looking forward to the proposals that the Government will do. I believe that many of us – especially those who, like me, have seen up close serious situations such as MS -recognize that the Government needs, same, Act, why leave the entire responsibility for conflict mediation with the Funai is something bold.
Now, at a time like this, what needs to be made clear is that the Funai needs to be, and backed and supported, strengthened. What cannot occur is that it is emptied. It is not a question of removing Funai powers; It is this Yes, give her meet the role that should meet and put other organs to help her. In some cases, it would be necessary to organize a joint effort of several federal government agencies. For example, the guarani-kaiowá case is extremely complex, a real humanitarian crisis, involving murders, suicides, deaths from child malnutrition (hunger), all imaginable evils.

The Funai will never be able to take care of that herself. Although the indigenous movement there always emphasize that the demarcation of lands is the condition sine qua non to face the crisis, it needs to be clear. Even though Funai had the budget and human resources to do what has to be done, she would need a political support that is beyond your reach. The Presidency of the Republic and the Ministry of Justice to take its responsibility.
Know that marketers that today guide the steps of our rulers will never’d be advised to face this kind of situation. Let us be clear: using the jargon, is something that “does not vote”, a thorny issue, with great chances to shake images of unwary. Talk nonsense when you’re dealing with indigenous peoples is very easy.
Real policy
In a country like Brazil, the good deal with the indigenous question helps to define the degree of nobility of a Government. Because the Indians, here, are not expressive, in electoral terms, but they are a component of the highest relevance in our history and our identity as Brazilians.
We must demand something beyond Government a pragmatic attitude, a real policy that ignores a past of high ideals of all the left-wing militancy in this country. Chico Mendes, for example, was a first-time PT! What he would say about what is happening today with Amazon, with indigenous peoples?
Hopefully the Figueiredo Report will help the people that have a past of fight against dictatorship to realize that they and the Indians were together, on the same side, in that period, and that, today, their representatives in this Government are often allying with former enemies.

IHU on-line from your research, what are the difficulties to understand the indigenous peoples?
Spensy Pimentel– the main difficulty comes from the fact that who invented the “Indian” we, not they. Who came here and, by the way, so misguided, called people “Indians”, in allusion to India, were Europeans. We have in mind a kind of imaginary Indian that disrupts our conversations, because, all the time, we think they should be what we learn from small: to walk naked, live “in hollow”, “rain dance,” speak “Tupi-Guarani”, have “shaman and cacique” etc. The most absurd is that if they do not correspond to our idea of Indian, seem to be “less Indians” to our eyes. You need to make a kind of mental housecleaning to remove these ideas, these ghosts, and start building new images from a real dialogue with the indigenous peoples.
We’re talking about 305 indigenous groups, with different languages, living in 274 688 indigenous lands, in places as different as the Serra do Mar, the Alto Rio Negro, the Pantanal, Caatinga and in cities large and small, from all regions of the country. Is already more than at the time of the Brazilian leave aside some simplórias ideas about indigenous peoples.
The path to this is, above all, by the school. Teachers have to be invited to this task. We already have the legal instrument, to 11,645, 2008 law, which establishes the obligation of teaching about the history and indigenous cultures. Now, the population has to charge in State and municipal law enforcement.

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