Entrevista de Mércio Pereira Gomes no Jungle Drums
Essa entrevista foi dada em janeiro de 2006, por ocasião de uma visita a Londres para uma palestra na London School of Economics and Political Science. O jornal eletrônico chamava-se "Jungle Drums". Acho que não existe mais.
O título da entrevista significa "Amigo ou inimigo" repercutindo ainda negativamente uma entrevista que havia dado a um jornalista russo da Reuters, cujo primeiro nome era Andrea, em 9 de janeiro. A entrevista havia sido feita em inglês. O jornalista passou a entrevista transcrita em português para o jornal O Estado de São Paulo, que abriu um debate sobre algumas das frases transcritas. Uma delas dizia que "o Brasil havia demarcado muita terra para os índios". Em matéria posterior um outro jornalista, Vanildo Mendes, escreveu maliciosamente que eu dissera "terra demais", e aí a controvérsia começou.
O pessoal das Ongs não perdoou. Caiu em cima, extrapolou em seus sites, como se eu tivesse dito isso verdadeiramente. E esse assunto rolou por algum tempo.
Trago-o aqui nessa entrevista só para seu registro. E para mostrar que as coisas acontecem de um jeito, mas a versão sai à revelia de sua intenção original.
Na entrevista dois assuntos tratados têm pertinência com a atualidade. A primeira é de que naqueles dias eu estava sendo criticado pelas Ongs por supostamente estar emperrando a demarcação de terras indígenas. Ora, havíamos acabado de demarcar a Terra Indígena Trombetas-Mapuera, com 4 milhões de hectares, bem como a homologação da Terra Indígena Raposa Serra do Sol. Ao final de nossa gestão deixamos 67 terras indígenas homologadas, com mais de 11 milhões de hectares. Em contraste, a atual gestão da Funai homologou 20 terras indígenas que vieram daquelas que havíamos demarcado anteriormente, inclusive a Terra Indígena Baú, tão criticada naquele tempo. Nenhuma terra nova foi demarcada até agora. O ano passado, pela primeira vez desde 1975, o presidente da República não homologou uma terra indígena sequer. Este ano esse feito negativo será repetido. Então, cadê as Ongs a reclamar?
A outra questão que chama a atenção é a das Ongs e da Anistia Internacional criticando muito a Funai e a política indigenista brasileira culpando-os pela morte de índios no ano 2005. A Anistia Internacional repercutiu o relatório do CIMI de que 38 lideranças indígenas haviam sido assassinadas por conta de sua luta pela terra. Na verdade, eram cerca de 5 lideranças, sendo as demais mortes resultado de conflitos internos nas próprias aldeias. Esse tipo de desonestidade me irritou profundamente. Eis que no último relatório do CIMI para o ano de 2008 esse número de mortes passa de 57 e no entanto a Anistia Internacional não abre nenhuma polêmica, nem as Ongs repercute tal suposto fato em seus sites.
Por que? Por que será que não se discute mais essas questões no Brasil? Não será porque as Ongs hoje em dia estão dentro da Funai controlando-a e se locupletando de suas oportunidades? Não será porque, no fundo, no fundo, elas não estão nem aí para esses problemas, porque o que querem mesmo é a desmoralização da política indigenista brasileira?
Fica a seu critério o julgamento.
Revista Jungle Drums, Londres, Inglaterra
Friend or foe?
Por: Gabriela Boeing
Head of the National Indian Foundation (Funai) since 2003, anthropologist Mércio Gomes has been harshly criticized by NGOs that credit him with holding back the progress made regarding the demarcation of Indigenous territories in Brasil.
As if that wasn?t enough, an Amnesty International report published in January revealed an alarming trend: 38 Indigenous people were killed over land disputes last year in Brasil. This is the highest figure of its kind in 11 years.
Passing through London on his way to Geneva, where he?s set to take part in a meeting on the elaboration of the Universal Declaration of Indigenous Peoples, the president of Funai took time out to speak to JungleDrums. The interview took place shortly before MércioGomes was scheduled to meet representatives of Amnesty International to discuss the figures published in the NGO?s report.
JungleDrums - You have been criticized for declaring in an interview given to Reuters that the Indigenous population of Brasil has a lot of land. Looking at the figures, is the 12% of Brasil?s territory put aside for the Indians really enough?
Mércio Gomes - I never said it was enough, nor too little, nor too much. What I said during that interview was that, up until now, Brasil has had the honour of returning 12.5% of national territory back to its indigenous population. That corresponds to 22% of the Amazon region, which is 5 million km² in size. The Indians living on the Brasilian coast since colonial times have lost out the most. In this case, they have little land in relation to the size of their population. The Amazon region will ensure the future of the Indigenous population as well as the defense of the Amazon itself. In this respect, Brasil has done itself proud. We have given a lot more land to our Indigenous peoples than any other country. At the moment we are marking out a 4 million hectare-wide territory for Vai-Vai and Carifuana Indians between the Amazon, Pará and Roraima. We?ve also set aside five territories for Guarani Indians and some other, smaller lands in Mato Grosso do Sul, Ceará and Acre. Of course in some parts of Brasil, this process is limited, because historical processes have made it impossible to recuperate past territories. So, during the interview with Reuters I was only comparing Brasil to other countries. It?s not a case of too little land, or too much land for a handful of Indians. It?s a very large amount of land in relation to what other countries have conceded.
When you think about the Indigenous population, the first thing that comes to mind is their troubled past, which has left their communities fragile and in need of an institution like Funai to protect them. Are you satisfied with the work that Funai has been carrying out? Has Funai, as a public institution, effectively protected the interests of the Indigenous peoples of Brasil?
No, but I think it?s because we lack the resources. In 1987, 5,600 people worked for Funai and were responsible for 200 thousand Indians and 380 Indigenous territories. Now, there are 604 Indigenous territories in all, double the amount of Indians and only 2 thousand Funai officials. Three thousand officials left over a 17 year period and were never replaced. And, of course, during this time, the Indians have taken more control over their own lands; they look after themselves and don?t need 5 thousand officials to take care of things. But we need to increase their support network; we need to train up those responsible for the Indigenous population?s health and education. We need to train these workers to have an Indianist outlook. The Indigenous population is made up of different ethnic groups, and you can?t treat everyone the same. Funai, as an offshoot of the Service for the Protection of Indians, has been going for 95 years. From 1910 onwards, several other countries created equivalent organisations, since there was generally more awareness about issues regarding Indigenous peoples. But no other country has maintained this kind of programme. Mexico, which has an Indianist tradition, had the INI (National Indigenous Institution), but that was closed and they opened a special secretariat linked to the presidency. In Brasil, the state is responsible for the protection of the Indigenous population.
Do you think that the Indians feel integrated into society as equal citizens?
We know of 225 tribes and there are 15 others with whom we haven?t made contact yet. These people?s identification with Brasil will all depend on the level of participation they have within society, and their knowledge of Brasil as a nation-state. In 1997, there were 90 Indians studying at university level. Today, there are 2,500. These people take an active role in society. In general, Indians are seeing themselves more as Brasilian citizens. Of course, when they speak Portuguese and have a certain level of schooling, it?s easier for them.
The figures published in a report published by Amnesty International in January reveal that 38 Indigenous people were killed last year in disputes over land. This is the highest figure of its kind in the last 11 years. What do you have to say about this?
I was very irritated by the way in which AI took a report published by a Brasilian NGO (The Indigenous Missionary Council) and said that 38 Indigenous militants and activists had been killed defending their land. We had registered 4 deaths over conflicts regarding land. The others had actually been killed by other Indians for a variety of motives. So Brasil is waging some kind of a war against the Indians? It?s just malicious. AI can?t just arrive in Brasil without understanding the situation, pick up some unscrupulous report, which doesn?t reveal how these people really lost their lives and which gives the impression that Brasil is killing its Indigenous population. It?s just not true.
So more Indians aren?t being killed in Brasil? Not even in land disputes with farmers?
No, of course they?re not. Of course there are problems regarding the recuperation of Indian land lost in the past. In some cases, we have had to dispossess farmers of land that has been in their families since the ?40s. Of course they think it?s theirs by right. Funai is always on the side of the Indians and fights for the Indians, but there are conflicts. How could there not be? And the Indians know this and are willing to struggle for their rights. But to credit Funai with negligence regarding the Indigenous population is unacceptable.
Why aren?t the rights of Indigenous peoples respected in Brasil?
This is a problem that affects various social sectors in Brasil. Brasil is a country of social inequality. The Indians? rights aren?t respected, but the same goes for Black people, the MST, the poor and the shantytown dwellers. The rights that Indians should have aren?t respected, I recognize that, but the Brasilian public has to fight to see this happen, and not just for the Indians, but for society as a whole.
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