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Story Publication logo September 30, 2022

Little Money, Expensive Travel and Misinformation: The Challenges of Indigenous Candidates Campaigning in the Amazon (Portuguese)


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In an election year, the tool investigates the performance of Brazilian deputies on issues related...

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This story excerpt was translated from Portuguese. To read the original story in full, visit Repórter Brasil. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.

The number of indigenous candidates has more than doubled since 2014, but campaigns face difficulties; the legacies of Mário Juruna and Joenia Wapichana demonstrate the importance of increasing the representation of native peoples in Congress.

Expensive travel with complicated logistics, insufficient money, target voters with little access to information and the ballot box, and the influence of evangelical churches in the villages. If the number of indigenous candidates broke a record in this year's elections, with an increase of 119% since 2014, the challenges faced by them in the Amazon indicate that the path to greater representation in the Legislative is still arduous.

One of the main problems pointed out by Amazonian indigenous candidates heard by Repórter Brasil concerns the insufficient resources for campaigning, especially considering the high costs involved in travel in the world's largest rainforest.

Vanda Witoto (Rede-AM), a representative of the Witoto people who is running for federal deputy in the state of Amazonas, declared to the TSE that she has R$ 1.16 million available for her campaign. Apparently high, the figure represents only half the average amount of R$2.23 million of the state deputies seeking re-election this year, according to calculations by Repórter Brasil.

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Vanda Witoto (Rede-AM), who is running for federal deputy for Amazonas, is among the candidates supported by the indigenous movement. Photo by Danila Bustamante/Divulgação via Reporter Brasil. Brazil, 2022.

Planes, boats and speedboats are among the means of transport that Vanda Witoto (Rede-AM) needs to use to travel through villages in the Amazon, logistics that make her campaign more expensive. Photo by Danila Bustamante/Divulgação via Reporter Brasil. Brazil, 2022.

The election of Joenia Wapichana (Rede-RR) in 2018 ended a hiatus of more than three decades without indigenous representation in the House of Representatives. Photo by Billy Boss/Camera dos Deputados via Reporter Brasil. Brazil, 2022.

The distance between villages and polling places discourages indigenous people from voting, as well as making them more vulnerable to vote buying. Photo by Danila Bustamante/Disclosure via Reporter Brasil. Brazil, 2022.

Junior Manchineri (PT-AC), the youngest indigenous candidate in Brazil, is trying to be elected state representative in Acre, but sees misinformation as an obstacle. Photo by Kauri Waiâpi/Divulgation via Reporter Brasil. Brasil, 2022.

The quest for greater indigenous representation in Brasilia attempts to reverse the setbacks of recent years, marked by the growth of illegal mining and the assassination of leaders. Photo by Mídia NINJA via Reporter Brasil. Brasil, 2022.

Elected to federal deputy in 1982, Mário Juruna took the problems faced by indigenous people to Brasilia and was technical advisor to the Constituent Assembly. Photo by File/Fundação Leonel Brizola via Reporter Brasil. Brasil, 2022.