Brazilian Indigenous FUNAI Agency Workers Strike After Amazon Murders

Employees at FUNAI, the government agency responsible for the protection and interests of Brazil’s indigenous people, said working in the Amazon has become dangerous and in some cases even deadly.

In a statement before the action, the strikers called for the “immediate protection of our Indigenous colleagues, Indigenous peoples and their leaders, organizations and territories” and demanded the resignation of FUNAI President Marcelo Xavier.

One striking FUNAI worker told CNN they don’t feel their safety is being taken seriously.

“We travel on unreliable boats, without equipment like radios or satellite phones,” the worker said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to speak to the press. The worker complained about the “lack of basic infrastructure, transport, protective equipment (and) an inspection team”.

CNN contacted FUNAI for comment on the strikes and the demands of participating workers.

The workers also criticized the investigation into the deaths of Pereira and Phillips for delays and failure to focus on links between organized crime and illegal activities in the Amazon.

The Brazilian Federal Police say no investigations have been closed. Several suspects in the killings have already been arrested, and at least five other suspects are under investigation for their involvement in hiding the bodies.

Philips and Pereira, whose murders were condemned worldwide and sparked a heated debate about the safety of the Amazon, traveled through the remote Jawari Valley before they were killed. Their boat was later found. According to the civilian police report, he capsized with six sandbags to make it difficult for him to swim.
Indigenous groups Mauruna, Mathis and Kanamari search for missing British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian indigenous specialist Bruno Pereira days before their remains were identified.

Phillips, a veteran journalist who has written extensively about Brazil’s most marginalized groups and the destruction that criminals are wreaking on the Amazon, traveled with Pereira to investigate conservation efforts in the remote Javari Valley.

While nominally under government protection, the Javari Valley, like other indigenous lands in Brazil, suffers from illegal mining, logging, hunting, and international drug trafficking, often resulting in violence as the criminals clash with environmentalists. and indigenous peoples. human rights activists.

Between 2009 and 2019, more than 300 people were killed in Brazil as a result of land and resource conflicts in the Amazon, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), citing data from the Pastoral Land Commission, a non-profit organization affiliated with the Catholic Church.

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And in 2020, Global Witness ranked Brazil number one. fourth most dangerous country for environmental activism based on documented killings of environmentalists. Nearly three-quarters of such attacks in Brazil took place in the Amazon region, he said.

Indigenous Brazilians have often been the targets of such attacks and have also been persecuted. In early January, three environmentalists from the same family were found dead in the northern Brazilian state of Para, who had developed a project to populate the local water with turtles. The police investigation is ongoing.

Kara Fox and CNN’s Rob Picheta contributed to the story.