World · June 24, 2022

FUNAI Workers of Brazilian indigenous agencies on strike after the killings in the Amazon

Staff from FUNAI, the government agency responsible for the protection and interests of indigenous Brazilians, said working in the Amazon has become dangerous and, in some cases, deadly.

In a statement before the action, the strikers had called for “the immediate protection of our indigenous colleagues, indigenous peoples and their leaders, organizations and territories” and called for the resignation of FUNAI president Marcelo Xavier.

A striking FUNAI worker told CNN he did not believe their safety was taken seriously.

“We travel on precarious boats, without equipment such as radios or satellite phones,” said the worker, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to the press. The worker complained about the “lack of basic infrastructure, transportation, protective equipment (and) inspection personnel”.

CNN reached out to FUNAI to comment on the strikes and claims of participating workers.

Workers also criticized the investigation into Pereira and Phillips’ deaths for being delayed and for failing to focus on the links between organized crime and illegal activities in the Amazon.

Brazilian federal police say no lines of investigation have been denied. Several suspects have already been arrested for the murders and at least five other suspects are being investigated for alleged involvement in the concealment of the bodies.

Phillips and Pereira, whose killings were condemned around the world and sparked a heated debate over the security of the Amazon, had traveled to the remote Javari Valley before being killed. Their boat was later found capsized with six sandbags to make buoyancy difficult, according to a civil police report.
Indigenous groups Mauruna, Matis and Canamari in search of the missing British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian indigenous affairs specialist Bruno Pereira, just days before their remains were identified.

Phillips, a veteran reporter who has reported extensively on Brazil’s most marginalized groups and the destruction criminal actors are wreaking in the Amazon, had traveled with Pereira to research conservation efforts in the remote Javari Valley.

Although formally protected by the government, the wild Javari Valley, like other designated indigenous lands in Brazil, is plagued by illegal mining, logging, hunting, and international drug trafficking, often resulting in violence, as the perpetrators clash with defenders of the environment and indigenous rights activists.

Between 2009 and 2019, more than 300 people were killed in Brazil amidst land and resource conflicts in the Amazon, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), citing data from the Pastoral Land Commission, a notorious organization. profit affiliated with the Catholic Church.

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And in 2020, Global Witness ranked Brazil as the fourth most dangerous country for environmental activism, based on documented killings of environmental defenders. Nearly three-quarters of such attacks in Brazil occurred in the Amazon region, he said.

Indigenous people in Brazil have been the frequent target of such attacks, as well as being subjected to harassment campaigns. In early January, three environmental defenders from the same family who had developed a project to repopulate the local water with baby turtles were found dead in the northern state of ParĂ¡, Brazil. A police investigation is ongoing.

CNN’s Kara Fox and Rob Picheta contributed to the report.