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Story Publication logo June 17, 2022

“We Are Alone in Vale do Javari,” Say Funai Employees (Portuguese)


a man is being escorted by a police officer.

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 Agência Pública. 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 blunt quotes denote anger, frustration, indignation, and impotence.

"Funai is alone, we are alone, abandoned here."

"We have our hands tied."

"Today the Funai employee has his hands tied."

"We are alone in the Javari Valley. Only Funai. But the obligation to protect these territories is not just Funai's."

"It's a dizzying drop in servers."

"We have the power to apprehend, but not to carry a weapon, in a region where everyone is armed."

"The state completely abandons us here."

Agência Pública collected statements from several employees of Funai (National Indian Foundation) in the region of Atalaia do Norte (AM) that were filled with emotion and grief moved by the confirmation, announced by the police, of the murders of Indigenous activist Bruno Pereira and British journalist Dom Phillips.

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The crime uncovered a pressure cooker that had been growing since the unpunished and unsolved murder of Funai collaborator Maxciel Pereira, which occurred in 2019 on a street in the neighboring city of Tabatinga (AM). In the early morning of Friday, June 17, some servers made a lightning protest in front of the agency in Atalaia. They tied their own hands and feet and put plastic bags on their heads.

The employees say that the current president of the agency, Federal Police delegate Marcelo Xavier, since taking office three years ago, has never appeared in the region that has the largest number of records of isolated Indigenous peoples in the world and which holds the second largest indigenous land in the country, with 8.5 million hectares.

FUNAI employees protested for law, justice, and protection of Indigenous peoples on June 17, 2022. Image by José Medeiros/Agência Pública, Brazil.

From above, in the center, the Funai headquarters abandoned due to lack of structure. When a worker becomes the target of threats, nothing is done to remove him from danger. Image by José Medeiros/Agência Pública. Brazil, 2022.

The Funai base on the river is a 90-minute boat ride from an army platoon, but this guarantees nothing, according to reports. Image by José Medeiros/Agência Pública. Brazil, 2022.