Indigenous people of Brazil: dead or forgotten

From Rio de Janeiro

It has been one more demonstration of to what extent the indigenous are forgotten, when not attacked, abandoned or decimated, by the government of the far-right Jair Bolsonaro.

At the end of Wednesday afternoon, at a press conference (Photo) to announce the meeting of the bodies of indigenist Bruno Pereira and British journalist Dom Phillips, murdered by at least two illegal fishermen in the Javari Valley, Eduardo Fontes, superintendent of the Regional Police in the state of Amazonas, He emphatically thanked the state Public Security Secretariat, the military police, the civil police, the firefighters, the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. Y, for twenty minutes, not a measly word about the Indians.

Fontes also praised the importance of the “union of forces”, forgetting three things.

First, the delay in the arrival of the Army, not to mention the very small number sent at first. Second, the total lack of coordination in the first three crucial days. And third, the action of a large number of indigenous people in the search and whose main characteristic was the union of forces among them.

It was precisely the forgotten ones who began the search for Phillips and Pereira the same day they disappeared, Sunday, June 5.

As they know the region perfectly, they spread out in groups and were the ones who found the place where the backpacks and objects of the victims were later located, who by that time had already been brutally murdered.

They were also the main protagonists of a sweeping job that lasted ten days, alongside police, firefighters and soldiers.

None of the others who spoke – representatives of the Army, the police, the firefighters – mentioned the indigenous people.

The total and absurd omission caught the attention of the journalists present, and one of them, a foreigner, questioned directly, in English: “The indigenous people helped a lot in the attempts to find the disappeared, and nothing was mentioned about the efforts made.”

It was not a mistake

Only then did the superintendent of the Federal Police in Amazonas mention them. He said that his omission was due to “a misunderstanding”, and admitted that the participation of the indigenous people was “fundamental”.

It wasn’t really a mistake. His omission is a clear reflection of the policy of rigorous denial, defended by Bolsonaro, not only of the rights of indigenous people, but also of their very existence.

On several occasions, the most abject president in the history of my country defended that there are no indigenous people: “They are Brazilians like any of us”. And he always added that, like all Brazilians, they have the full right to let mining, fishing and hunting occur in their territories.

No, the omission was not a mistake. It was the translation of the dream that Bolsonaro explained on at least one occasion.

It was when he criticized the Brazilian Army for not having acted in the same way as the United States, “eliminating that race once and for all.”

By “race” is understood, of course, the indigenous peoples.

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