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Bruno Pacheco – From Cenarium Magazine
MANAUS – In Brazil, the indigenous and riverside peoples affected by the financial crisis and the intense guerrillas on the Abacaxis River, in the interior of the Amazonas, have suffered from hunger and social isolation caused by the new coronavirus pandemic. For this reason, civil society organizations joined the fundraising campaign, initiated by the Dominican friar Frei Betto, to help vulnerable communities in the region.
Writer and activist, Frei Betto annually promotes a campaign to help some needy communities. This year, sensitized by the pandemic, the friar chose the riverside communities and the Munduruku and Maraguá peoples, on the Abacaxis River, located in the municipalities of Borba and Nova Olinda do Norte. Since 2020, the region has been experiencing moments of tension with conflicts between the military and residents.
The conflicts, resulting from disputes over land and natural resources, resulted in the death of indigenous people, riverside residents, and police, and left the local population in fear of violence and police repression. Recent episodes, according to the Indigenous Missionary Council (Cimi), have prevented residents of the Abacaxis River from circulating in the region, including fishing or hunting.
“Unable to exercise their traditional subsistence practices, in a region even more isolated due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Munduruku, Maraguá and riverside communities were hit by hunger”, reinforced the council.
In August last year, CENARIUM MAGAZINE toured the territory of the Abacaxis River and collected reports from the riverside communities. With the climate of violence looming in the region, fishermen and rural producers already reported suffering from the sale of fish. According to them, even though the demand exists to purchase food, the fear of being approached by criminals and the police persisted, causing them to remain at home.
“I fear for my life, nobody really knows what is happening here, we are scared”, commented, in 2020, the fisherman Joaquim Siqueira Lima, 51, resident of Vila Abacaxis.
The campaign started on “Ash Wednesday”, on February 17, and ends on “Friday of Passion”, on April 2, 2021, according to Cimi. For those who wish to support the indigenous and the riverside residents, donations of any amount can be made at Banco do Bradesco. Check the account: CNPJ: 00.479.105 / 0009-22. Bank: Bradesco (237). Agency: 2239. Current Account: 14.825-3. More information: [email protected]
Abacaxis River, conflict region
Conflicts in the Abacaxis River region started in July 2020, after the executive secretary of the Social Promotion Fund of the Government of Amazonas, Saulo Moysés Rezende da Costa, was shot while traveling around the area. At the time, SSP-AM launched an operation against a criminal organization linked to drug trafficking.
In the operation, military police clashed with criminals, resulting in the death of two PMs, Corporal Márcio Carlos de Souza and Sergeant Manoel Wagner Silva Souza. The action also left two other officers injured. The following day, the Amazonas Public Security Secretariat announced that it would send police reinforcements to a new operation in the region.
The conflicts, according to complaints from entities, triggered a wave of violence against the lives of riverside dwellers and indigenous people. One of the conflicts ended with the death of Josivan Lopes, 18, and Josimar Moraes Lopes, 25, two young Mundurukus whose bodies were found floating in the Abacaxis river. Entities linked to human rights and the protection of traditional peoples and communities in the Amazon came to issue manifestos demanding immediate and concrete actions to safeguard the rights of these populations.