Peruvian paramilitary group invades territory in the state of Acre
by Altino Machado*
Friday, August 5, 2011
By accepting the post of Defence Minister in the Brazilian government, Celso Amorim will have to deal with a recurring problem in the far west of the country: the invasion of an area of land occupied by isolated Indians by a Pervuian paramilitary group. It is an area where FUNAI (the National Indian Foundation) has a team, which is in charge of the Ethno-Environmental Protection of the Envira River.
The Federal Police carried out an operation using helicopters on Friday (5) along the Xinan River, where Funai has its base, but only managed to arrest one person — a Portuguese man, called Joaquim Antonio Custodio, who had earlier been given a jail sentence for drug-smuggling. Sources at the Federal Police Superintendency in Acre confirmed the operation, but said they could not give further details. A police source explained: “The issue is sensitive because it involves national security and the relationship between two countries. We await authorization from Brasilia to report and disseminate images of the operation.”
Saturday, August 6, 2011
As the Federal Police decided to leave the area, four employees of FUNAI and the sertanista, Jose Carlos dos Reis Meirelles (all pictured, with Meirelles in the yellow shirt), decided to travel to the region to try and stop the paramilitaries from moving in. They were flown to the region by the Federal Police on Friday (5).
At the moment the five are surrounded by five or six Peruvian paramilitaries, who are armed with revolvers and machine guns. “We are here, with the Peruvians encircling us”, said Carlos Travassos, the head of FUNAI’s Department for the General Coordination of Isolated and Recently-Contacted Indians, told Blog da Amazonia by phone. Jose Carlos dos Reis Meirelles added: “We can’t spend much time on the phone or at the computer. We have to keep a close eye on the Peruvians outside. So far, it’s been quiet but we don’t know how the situation will develop.”
* The Portuguese version of these reports and further information, in Portuguese, are available at Altino Machado’s Blog da Amazonia.
Survival International have published a press release on this incident. Read it here.