Sateré-Mawé teachers accuse mayor in Amazonas countryside of persecution

The mayor of Barreirinha (AM), Glenio Seixas (Composition by Paulo Dutra/Revista Cenarium)
Ricardo Chaves – From Cenarium Magazine

MANAUS (AM) – The president of the Sateré-Mawé Indigenous Teachers’ Organization (Opisma), Elizandro Barbosa, told CENARIUM MAGAZINE that the mayor of the municipality of Barreirinha (331 kilometers from Manaus), Glenio Seixas (MDB), directly interfered in the organization’s election, which took place on January 25.

According to Opisma’s main representative, the organization has been denouncing the lack of school meals since last year and, because of this, has upset the municipal administration. Other complaints presented by the organization are related to structural problems in indigenous schools and the lack of pedagogical support.

Barbosa explains that the current administration is made up of an organizing committee and, on the 25th, the first Opisma assembly was called to deal with the electoral process. He says that during the meeting there was an attempt to interfere directly by threatening to dismiss teachers who voted for a candidate not supported by the municipal administration.

The indigenous assembly was held on January 25, 2024 (Disclosure/Opisma)

“The [municipal] government tried to take advantage of this situation to get us out of the front line. But with the support of the leaders, we kept going. But it wasn’t easy. There were threats that if you didn’t vote for the mayor’s candidate, you’d lose your job”, said Opisma’s president.

With the impasse, the election was not held. There is also a need to update the statutes. Because of this, a board of directors was formed to take care of the updating and to remain at the head of Opisma for another year. The new board was acclaimed by those present at the assembly.

School feeding

Although the funds from the National School Feeding Program (PNAE) had been deposited monthly, Opisma’s representative argues that the meals were not reaching the municipal schools.

Throughout 2023, the organization established a dialogue in the belief that the town hall would resolve the situation it had been alerted to, however, according to Opisma, the issue was not resolved. As a result, in October last year, the organization filed a complaint with the Amazonas State Public Prosecutor’s Office (MP-AM).

Elizandro Barbosa (red shirt) during the meeting that reorganized Opisma (Reproduction/Barreirinha em Destaque)

“So, when it came to October, we filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor’s Office. This was another fight that the municipality didn’t like, but we had to do it because the main incentive for education, in terms of food, school meals, wasn’t arriving”, explained Opisma’s president.

The organization had been deactivated since 2018 and, after five years, it was reactivated. It is a non-partisan organization and was reorganized in January 2023 on the initiative of the General Council of the Sateré-Mawé Tribe (CGTSM), which saw the need to re-found the organization to monitor the situation of indigenous school education in the Andirá-Marau Indigenous Land.

CENARIUM contacted Barreirinha City Hall to explain the reports made by Opisma’s president. The Municipal Executive responded that the reason the election didn’t take place was because the organization’s statutes were out of date and had been contested by the majority of those present at the assembly.

Read the full statement:

The Municipality of Barreirinha informs that there was no interference by the institution in the election of the Organization of Sateré-Mawé Indigenous Teachers (Opisma).

The Municipal Government has always been active in defending the rights of the indigenous population, working in partnership with the Organizations and leaders of the 63 villages in the region, making it a fundamentally important body for the consolidation of public policies for the Sateré-Mawé people. Even the regularization of Opisma in 2023 had the full support of Barreirinha City Hall.

The reason the election didn’t take place was because the organization’s statutes were out of date, and were contested by the majority of those present at the Assembly, made up of Tuxauas leaders, teachers, Indigenous Health Agents, among other participants from the Indigenous Land of the Andirá and Uaicurapá river regions (belonging to Opisma).

Edited by Adrisa De Góes
Reviewed by Adriana Gonzaga
Translated by Bruno Sena

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