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Story Publication logo July 11, 2022

The President of Funai “Asked for My Head,” Denounces a Civil Servant (Portuguese)


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A series of investigative reports will look into the actions of the authorities and institutions in...

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This story excerpt was translated from Portuguese. To read the original story in full, visit Agencia Publica. 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.

Image by Agencia Publica. Brazil, 2022.

The indigenist and employee of the National Indian Foundation (Funai) since 2018, Guilherme Martins, says in an interview with Agência Pública that the general coordinator of Isolated Indians and Recent Contact (CGIIRC), Geovânio Pantoja Katukina, was negligent in the search for his colleague Bruno Pereira and journalist Dom Phillips.

Guilherme reports having participated, on June 13—more than a week after the disappearance of the two in Vale do Javari—in a meeting with Katukina, in which he admitted having opened only one internal process regarding the case, which requested the commitment to hire three boats to help in the search.

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"There is a necessary diplomacy in inter-institutional communications. You can't, for example, just talk by WhatsApp with the Army commander—if even that was done by the CGIIRC. If the CGIIRC did not instruct specific processes in the SEI about the searches for Bruno, how did Funai at the central level talk to the Army, talk to the Navy, talk to the Federal Police? Without the processes it is not possible to know. Everything indicates that if this dialogue happened, as far as we know, it took place on an informal level, which is absurd," said the indigenist.

He explains that the SEI is the Electronic Information System—the official system of the Executive Branch that centralizes all the processes. For a document to exist officially before the Brazilian State, "it needs to be formally materialized in a process in the SEI."

According to indigenist Guilherme Martins, Funai was omissive in the search for his colleague Bruno Pereira. Image by Agencia Publica. Brazil, 2022.

Martins claims to have suffered direct retaliation for his work in the Ituna-Itatá Indigenous Land, in Pará, by the president of Funai, Marcelo Xavier. Image by Agencia Publica. Brazil, 2022.

"From the first day of the disappearance, the Funai staff asked for security and support, and Xavier did not make either possible," says Martins. Image by Agencia Publica. Brazil, 2022.

Martins denounces Funai's absence in Vale do Javari. Image by Agencia Publica. Brazil, 2022.