The anti-indigenous agenda – the hand and the trigger

Image: Lucas Vinícius Pontes


Bruno and Dom did not die defending only forests and rivers, but the people they co-created with them.

After entire lives dedicated to entirely others, fragments, vestiges and human remnants of indigenist Bruno Vieira and journalist Dom Philips remain. Remains is what we become, those who remain in the same intent. Yes, we were all ambushed, shot, burned, quartered. Now, only by piecing together the shards and shards of this normalized horror story can we make ourselves whole again.

Delivering and identifying the bodies after confession and location of the mortal remains by one of the executors, is that what they present as the successful outcome of “Operation Javari”? The Federal Police, repeatedly decapitated to submit to the court's will, brought what was left of the bodies to the public as if their mission had been accomplished. Missing, no, found. The rush to close the case is self-explanatory.

The killers acted alone, with no principals or criminal organization involved, the investigators shamelessly advocate. It is known, however, that up to eight people alternated between ambushing, executing, disfiguring and hiding the bodies – which presupposes joint premeditation and division of tasks. This condition is more than enough to characterize a criminal organization: group associative animus driven by private criminal purposes and/or third parties.

On the days when Bruno and Dom were missing or hidden, the main mentor of the escalation of invasions, intrusions and murders in indigenous territories, punctuating the advance of mining and agribusiness, hoped for disappearance. “Tens of thousands of people disappear every day,” so why worry only about “these two?” replied the president, distilling his usual cynicism. It would be simpler for its support base in the Amazon, if the case turned into an anonymous fatality.

As soon as he realized that the thesis would not hold, the representative began to blame the victims for the “adventure” in “an extensive and dangerous area”. It is not the physical environment that determines a greater or lesser level of risk, but the socio-territorial dynamics that are authorized and legitimized. The Amazon doesn't seem at all dangerous for miners, land grabbers, gunmen and commodity companies that are hot on their heels. It is dangerous, yes, for those who defend it. With each presidential declaration and with each Bill, Provisional Measure, Ordinance and Normative Instruction forwarded by the Executive, expectations of additional plundering of the Amazon are created, leaving its peoples and traditional communities marked for death, in body and soul.

The guarantor of the executioners said he was convinced that if Bruno and Dom had agreed with FUNAI earlier, none of this would have happened. Marcelo Xavier, the figurehead (or gold?) placed at the head of the organ, falters in chorus: “It is important that people understand that when entering an area like this, there is a whole procedure”. Does it mean that, if the “New FUNAI”, converted into something similar to an office of organized environmental crime, were warned, would it hold the murderous hands of its peers?

FUNAI, when it was something similar to a public agency, destined to create a dialogical interface and the joint construction of public territorial policies with indigenous peoples, with all their limits and contradictions, tried to protect or at least did not facilitate intrusions, nor was it aligned to the pressures of all orders on their territories.

At the end of the line, the fishermen's confessions are made spectacular while those who control the spool are obscured, that is, the planning of the selective execution on a certain day, time and place. When the boat on which Bruno and Dom were traveling was reached on the Itaquaí River, a tributary of the Javari, no one heard the exchange of gunfire. Morning hunting, go find out who practices it. The interweaving of illicit activities around and inside indigenous lands is of great interest to legal activities based on the extraction of natural resources. Just as the disinvestment and scrapping of public companies open the way to privatize them, the de-characterizing pressures of trafficking and mining open flanks for new appropriations and dispossessions.

While naked, without a threshing floor, they confess their crimes, the one who remains naked is the King. Whoever sees and tells what he saw will live?

Who does the Federal Police pardon when it says in an official note that the “executors acted alone” and still “without principals and without criminal organizations”? It is necessary to blindfold and erase allegations, evidence and indications that go in the opposite direction of these statements, such as those made by the União dos Povos do Vale do Javari (Univaja) and the Kanamary Association of the Vale do Javari (Akavaja) about invasions, mining , logging and illegal fishing.

In particular, erase the vows of revenge of the criminal mining network installed in the region, partially dismantled in September 2019 by Operation Korubo, the last major joint operation between the PF, IBAMA and FUNAI before the interventions and dismantling of these bodies. 60 of the 122 mining barges between the Javari, Jutaí and Curuena rivers were seized and destroyed, as can be seen in the areas marked on the map used in the planning of the Operation.

Also delete the before and after of this Operation. The warning about the seriousness of the spread of illegal mining in the Javari Valley was given in April 2019 by Bruno Araújo Pereira himself, when he was at the General Coordination of Isolated Indigenous Peoples and Recent Contacts (CGIIRC). The objective was to destroy rafts and dredgers in order to exert pressure in the opposite direction to the dismantling of policies for recognizing indigenous lands and protecting isolated peoples, imposing maximum access restrictions.

Regulating and acting in defense of isolated peoples is the last line of resistance for territorial rights in Brazil, already frayed when the major PAC projects were licensed in the region between 2006 and 2014. But it was after the 2016 Coup and the rise of ultraliberal and militia forces in 2018 that the dismantling deepened, both in the discursive terrain and in that of material practices. After the outbreak of Operation Korubo, one last hiccup of a non-integrationist indigenous policy, tempers flared between the mining and agro-associated lobbies and the sertanista was promptly exonerated from his position.

Source: FUNAI, 2019.

Erase the evidence brought from the “Joint Ágata Operation” in the Triple Frontier, in March of this year, after sweeping the Japurá River, when it was possible to demonstrate how mining and drug trafficking have merged in practice, whether in gold mining or laundering and money.

Delete, finally, the last public denunciation of the murdered sertanista, less than 30 days after his death. He noted the setback in the fight against illicit activities in the region and that illegal mining had returned to the level prior to Operation Korubo “the garimpeiros are there and the information we have from other Kanamari is that the Curuena River is plagued by mining rafts” .

There was no lack of base reasons for the execution of two allies of indigenous peoples, cornered and surrounded by land grabbers, loggers and miners. Recipients of dirty gold, the owners of DTVMs (Title and Securities Distributors) very well connected with institutional spheres at the three levels of the Federation, at the same time that they clean the operational terrain, they also make move proposals of compulsory mining in indigenous lands next to the Congress and the National Mining Agency.

There are questions whose answers cost heads. Woe betide anyone who responds to those interested in the concealment of other authors and co-authors, the concealment of links between this criminal organization and other organizations and their illicit activities. Woe betide anyone who proves the connections between these organizations, local and state political oligarchies and key operators in Brasilia.

That is why there are those who order to declare that there are no rulers and there are those who obey. Disagreement, sudden anger, that's the right motivation so that motivation doesn't actually appear. From fish to gold: Fishing and hunting for contraband, as well as cocaine trafficking and illegal gold mining are highly profitable. The chain of command for these activities pays in the sense of “worth what it weighs”. It is no small matter, in terms of intimidation and silencing the denunciation of the robbery of the territories, to make disappear a sertanista organically recognized by the peoples and a journalist of international reputation.

A corruption of the infant industry theory, the one that needs customs protection to grow, would be the theory of nascent enclaves that need authoritarian neoliberal regimes that dismantle social and environmental regulations, thus producing regulatory subsidies in reverse. This is how the corridors for the extraction and circulation of raw materials – licit and illicit – in the Amazon have expanded, with common global connections.

The problem, therefore, is not in the absence of the State, but in its overdetermined presence, in order to dissolve previous agreements and social pacts. The anti-environmental and anti-indigenous agenda, apart from the financial and property dealings promoted by Paulo Guedes, is the cornerstone of support for the current government and does not want to stop being the next one. The territorial fascisms that support the commodity caucus (larger than the ruralist caucus) in the National Congress and that are attuned to the presidential chair are demarcating their positions in the front Amazonian.

The direct and in-depth attack on the Javari Valley, with around 5 indigenous people from the Marubo, Mayoruna, Matis, Kanamary, Kulina, Korubo and Tyohom-Dyapah ethnic groups, in addition to several isolated groups, is a decisive test for the fate of the whole of region. Bruno and Dom did not die defending only forests and rivers, but the people they co-created with them. And it is the isolated and newly contacted peoples who best understand this concurrence between beings, times and places. The possibility of coexisting with and learning from these non-instrumental ways of life, the chance of one day being able to recognize ourselves as a multi and pluriethnic nation, is at stake.

*Luis Fernando Novoa Garzon is a sociologist, PhD in Urban and Regional Planning from IPPUR-UFRJ and professor at the Federal University of Rondônia.


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