‘The entire Univaja board is marked with Bruno and Dom’s brand’, says Univaja’s coordinator in the Senate

Marcela Leiros – From Cenarium Magazine

BRASILIA – The Temporary Commission set up in the Senate to monitor the investigation into the increase in violence in the Amazon and the murders of Dominic Mark Phillip, known as “Dom Phillips”, and Bruno da Cunha Araújo Pereira, a licensed employee of the National Indian Foundation (Funai), heard representatives of the Union of Indigenous Peoples of Javari Valley (Univaja), the National Indian Foundation (Funai) and the Associated Indigenous (INA), on Wednesday, 22.

The main issues raised were the lack of efficient responses from the security agencies to the innumerous denunciations made by the indigenous organization and the dismantling of inspection agencies in the region of Javari Valley, in Amazonas. The legal advisor of Univaja – with whom Bruno Araújo worked directly – Eliésio Marubo, called for more effective protection against the threats suffered by him, other members of the board of directors of the organization and even the surveillance team that operates in the region.

“Days before [the indigenous activist’s death], in a meeting with the Prosecutors General’s Office in the Tabatinga region, I said that we were literally the target of organized crime in the region, and that we are going to stay here defending our people until the last indigenous dies. I looked at Bruno and he said the same thing, always putting the inefficiency of FUNAI as a central point. What kind of country are we living in? How many more Brunos and Doms have to die? The entire Univaja board is marked with the Bruno and Dom brand”, he said.

Eliésio also recalled that Bruno told that he suffered institutional persecution within Funai, until he was exonerated from the position of general coordinator of isolated peoples, in 2019.

“He mentioned being persecuted a lot within Funai, by the upper echelons, for the work he had been doing in the Javari Valley. He didn’t give details about how this persecution was carried out, some things didn’t make it into the minor, but he listed very well this issue of the higher hierarchy for the work he was doing”, added Marubo.

Funai without answers

The general coordinator of Isolated Indians and Recent Contact of FUNAI, a position previously held by Bruno Araújo, Geovanio Oitaia Pantoja, representing the institution, was questioned about how many actions were taken in the Javari Valley region regarding the complaints by Univaja.

Without responding in detail to the quantity of the actions, Pantoja only stated that there were 26 expeditions to monitor isolated indigenous people in the Javari Valley between 2016 and 2019, and an investment of more than R$10 million in the region in the last three years. “There have been several actions by Funai, with the PM and support from the National Force. Since 2019, the National Force has been in the region”, he said.

Dismantling

Eliésio Marubo also explained that of the three Funai bases in the region, only one is functioning, but without the presence of the foundation’s employees and with indigenous volunteers. There are no active bases of the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Resources (Ibama) or of ICMbio.

The president of the Associated Indigenists (INA), Fernando Viana, reiterated that Funai is undergoing a dismantling. “He [Bruno Araújo] was perhaps the person who realized most quickly what has been happening today at Funai, an absolutely contrary mission. The current management of Funai has shown itself to be committed not to indigenous rights, but to the economic interests and those of the sectors that dispute land ownership with the indigenous people, that want to take possession of the natural resources”, he concluded.

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