We, Munduruku of the middle Tapajós River, with four villages in the municipality of Itaituba, Pará, are ourselves in the process of demarcating a territory that, despite being in an area of government initiatives, is land that has belonged to the Munduruku since even before the arrival of the “pariwat” (white) invaders of the fifteenth century, in the colonial era.
The entire indigenous population of Brazil knows that the Brazilian government has never respected our rights, even those that exist in the 1988 Federal Constitution. And no politician in congress defends the rights of indigenous peoples. A good politician would not vote for a law that does away with the rights of our people. She or he would revoke the Proposed Constitutional Amendment (PEC) 215, Ordinance 303 of the Attorney General’s Office, and other proposed laws, like the new mining code.
Moreover, the government’s large projects are trampling the rights of all indigenous peoples of Brazil. One of these initiatives is the construction of hydropower plants in Pará: Belo Monte, São Luiz do Tapajós, and four more along the Tapajós River’s course; one in Jatobá; one in Chacorão; another already in the final phase on the Teles Pires River (continuing onto the São Benedito River), one on the São Manoel River and three more to be built on the Jamanxim River. All of them will produce energy, but none will benefit any nearby cities, let alone the indigenous community.
The electricity will only benefit large companies, such as mining firms and multinationals. A dam will not generate power for small populations that cannot afford to pay for expensive energy. Then, with the dam built, other large projects of destruction will come: railroads and the waterway in the Tapajos River through which soybeans will flow to export abroad. For this waterway they plan to build seven ports along the Tapajós and also pave the BR-163 Highway.
Guarani-Kaiowa and Ka’apor relatives, and all other people who struggle like us: we Munduruku feel a lot of pain for you, for the size of the crime that government officials have committed with our recurring murders. For centuries the pariwat have been taking our lands; they plucked the life from our forest, which gives us food and even medicine for our family. They violate and rape our mother earth and leave her dishonored and disrespected.
With its projects, the government brings neither “progress” nor “development,” but brings only death. And the indigenous population has no right to challenge this type of violation. And when we manifest our outrage (which we are right to have and have rights to express), the government says that we “are obstructing” the process. We, indigenous people, are not obstructing anyone. This is because it is not us who are going to Brasilia to take the pariwat’s land and kill them. Nor have we gone there to disrespect their rights or to invade their territory. How can they accuse us of obstruction when it was they themselves who made the laws to be obeyed and enforced, and now they do not even respect what they themselves wrote? It wasn’t us. We demand that the government guarantee our constitutional rights, rights that flow from the 1988 charter and constituent assembly.
Relatives, let us fight together. All it takes is to observe how nature teaches us. We note that the taoca ants never hunt alone, but in swarms. They enter through the hollows of a trunk and chase away the most fearsome snakes, scorpions, centipedes, spiders, and even the jaguar and the great snake. In the trunks of trees they capture and destroy any species that they confront. These ants are dangerous.
Wasps are the same way. They never attack alone. Also the fierce red ants: first comes only one and close behind comes the pack ready to attack. Wild boars teach us all about the art of fighting or war. Jaguars, during rutting season, come together in groups to mate. Animal species teach us all of this. In every moment of our lives, we indigenous people, we must always pull together.
This is the moment for us to stand and fight together against our greatest enemy, which is the government. Let us form a grand alliance, and here our knowledge teaches us with the wisdom of the tortoise. He is slow, but he’s no fool. He walks little by little, but he’s never behind. He has fortitude and no one can defeat him. The tortoise always wins. He’s very intelligent and wise.
This is the only way: we must join forces. All the indigenous peoples of Brazil and throughout the world, from north to south and east to west. Let’s all let out the cry of “Enough!” Enough with the massacres, enough with the violation of our rights. Enough with the robbing of our lands.
So, if we mobilize our collective forces at the national and international levels, we can yet defeat our greatest enemy. We will not raise our hatchet to shed blood. We want to demonstrate that we are a people who struggle for the lives of all human beings who depend on nature, and not people of war.
All peoples should join this great battle for PEACE, for the love of nature, and for the love of all extant beings, which have different forms of life. Because we depend on all of them.
The Ipereg’ayu Movement and the Pariri Indigenous Association
Aldeia Sawre Muybu, July 15, 2015
tr. Jeremy M. Campbell 7/23/2015