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[English translation follows]
Photo by Larissa Saud
Sawré Muybu Village, Brazil
November 17, 2014
Our elders told us that the anteater is calm and quiet, keeping to itself and troubling no one – but that when it is threatened, its embrace and claws are deadly.
This is our way: quiet, calm, like the anteater. But the government is disturbing our peace; the government is meddling with Mother Earth, our wife.
Today, the 17th of November, marks three months since our meeting with the national Indian agency (Funai) and government representatives in Brasília, to demand the publication of the land claim report that defines the territory we know as IPI WUYXI IBUYXIM IKUKAM DAJE KAPAP EYPI – I’E CUG’AP KARODAYBI. This report was completed in September 2013 but remains unpublished to this day. We were told by Maria Augusta, then president of Funai, that our lands occupy an area slated for hydroelectric development, and that the report was not published because of the interests of other government bodies. Two weeks after this meeting in Brasília, we received news that the federal public prosecutor had filed a motion requiring Funai to publish the report. It did not comply. Last week, we learned that the regional federal court judge for Region 1 revoked the injunction. We Munduruku have seen this all too often. We will never hang our heads in defeat: The fight goes on! We are the true keepers of this land, since before the Portuguese invaded.
Today also marks one month since we began our self-proclamation of the IPI WUYXI IBUYXIM IKUKAM DAJE KAPAP EYPI Indigenous Territory, out of mistrust in the duplicitous words of the government and its organs.
Ensuring the lasting life of our territory is what gives us strength and courage. Without the earth, we could not survive. She is our mother, and we respect her. We know the government is moving against us, with its great projects to destroy our river, our forest and our life.
We Munduruku of both the Middle and Upper Alto Tapajós call this territory our home.
For decades we have waited in vain for the government to proclaim our right to this land, and meanwhile it is dying. Our forest is crying from the trees that we find left behind on illegal logging roads, for clandestine sale to sawmills; government environmental inspectors do nothing. Thirty truckloads of lumber have been hacked down on just one of these access roads, where ancient ipe trees and immense stands of açai palms have been stripped away. Our hearts are sad.
In 30 days of our self-proclamation campaign, we have already traveled some seven kilometers of our perimeter, and cleared two-and-a-half kilometers of boundary lines. Within our lands, we have come across 11 loggers and three logging trucks, four motorcycles and one harvester, as well as countless logs from protected species along their trails. On the morning of November 15, four loggers entered our work camp by surprise: trespassers led by a man named Vilmar, who claimed he owned six lots inside our territory and would never let us take his land; he planned to take legal action on November 24.
We hereby declare that we will no longer wait for the government to act, and resolve to proclaim this territory on our own. We call for the government to respect our work, our ancestors, our culture and our life. We will stop only when our work is done.
SAWE! SAWE! SAWE!
This letter was first published yesterday at “Auto-Demarcação no Tapajós” a blog created by the collective Amazônia em Chamas, from Belém in Pará state of Brazil.