Por Andressa Santa Cruz

Wajãpi’s first non-indigenous contact was with miners who were probing the Amapari River in the early 1970s. Today sums up 50 years of fighting against the mining invasion of those same natives and one of the witnesses was leader Emyra Wajãpi, who was older than mining in the region. On July 22, 2019, Emyra was murdered at age 69, the same week a group of armed men invaded the Yvytoto village, threatening and expelling its inhabitants. Even with the history of attacks, leadership reports, and the murder of an elder, the Federal Police investigation does not point to the invasion of the Wajãpi Indigenous Land. In a note, the Wajãpi Villages Council (APINA) states that despite the commitment to bring FP agents to the sites with evidence, they refused to act forward. APINA has requested support from the Public Federal Ministry.

“Yes, there was an invasion. This is what we are going to belie the government, which has disrespected indigenous peoples and is still discriminating them, including the indigenous Wajãpi”, has stated in an interview for Mídia Ninja the councilman Jawaruwa Wajãpi (REDE), the first of his people to hold political office. The Wajãpi were also the first to self-demarcate their territory and to publish a Consent and Consultation Protocol, thus becoming an example of political struggle for all indigenous peoples of Latin America. “Invasion has happened since 1500, indigenous homicide is not new. To this day they continue to explore the northern Amazon region and we will continue fighting back.”

Fotos: Otto Ramos/ Mídia NINJA

At the age of 30, Jawaruwa was elected councilor by the Amapá municipality of Pedra Branca of Amapari, located within the Wajãpi Indigenous Land. He joined the political movement at the age of 17, was president of APINA (Wajãpi Villages Council), and is today a young leader of his people. When asked why he wanted to become a politician, he replies that he ran “to better understand whether the government was deaf or unwilling to listen to indigenous peoples”. In addition to institutional mobilization, new technologies have also helped the Wajãpi to defend themselves from mining violence, such as the cell phone Jawaruwa used to denounce to the world the recent invasions and stabbing assassination of the leader Emyra Wajãpi. Acting on social networks, he echoed the performance of portals such as Mídia Índia, created in 2017 to unify the news of villages across Brazil that still struggle for visibility in the media. However, access is still limited. At the Wajãpi Indigenous Land there is no cell phone signal and there is only internet in one single area of the 607,000-hectare region.

Anthropologist Bruno Walter Caporrino also witnessed some invasions during his time as advisor of the Wajãpi Program (2009-16). “Security agencies and public agencies responsible for keeping the constitutional program running were urged on by the Wajãpi, there are data, information and invasions documented. But it is not enough, they still discredit the Wajãpi and the gravity of the fact.” For Caporrino, “Forget bombing and trenching, in the post-truth world the war is for the control of the nation.” Hence why the importance of the natives as rapporteurs of their own history, even more so today.

Foto: Otto Ramos

“For five centuries Indigenous peoples have been suffering, being persecuted by the Brazilian government and non-indigenous people, and we will not accept these statements from the Brazilian government,” warns Jawaruwa. Despite the history of invasions, Senator Randolfe Rodrigues (REDE-AP) stated that the Wajãpi were victims of the first violent invasion in 30 years of indigenous demarcation in Amapá.

To continue following up, check out the APINA (Wajãpi Villages Council) public notes on recent invasions into the Wajãpi Indigenous Land.