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Letterthe Amazon Peoples

Picture by Franciele Petry Schramm

We, grassroots organizations, social movements, social pastoral organizations, human rights entities, met at the place where two big rivers – the Amazon and the Tapajós – also meet in Santarém, in western Pará state, on November 5th to 7th 2019, in order to grow, just as these water sources also grow. We are manifesting ourselves through this Letter to reaffirm our commitment to the peoples of the Amazon and to denounce violations occurring in our territories. On November 1st we were informed of the murder of yet another defender of the forest, Paulo Paulino Guajajara, which everything points to its having been ordered by lumber fellers who were illegally exploiting the indigenous land of Paulo’s people in Maranhão state.

We are bleeding yet again in the face of the violent development that is befalling us. Yet again it is capital that is attempting to colonize our bodies, our lives and our territories. We are talking about a region where mining companies are the biggest human rights violators and are now adding strength to the lobby in the National Congress to invade Indigenous Lands even more. In places where collective settlements projects are undermined by the new landholding law, and the National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA) in the Amazon is increasingly acting as a body to facilitate the land market rather than agrarian reform.

Our rivers, streams and sea coast are also our territories and they still have not been recognized. The areas that are burning every day, that lose their native vegetation every week, are the same areas where cattle rearing and soybean plantations advance following a predatory model that poisons our land, our rivers and our food just to bolster the financial market. Our people are becoming ill as the pure forest air is replaced by burning forest smoke and contaminated with glyphosate.

This land is also where they are building ports, railways and extending highways to enable commodities to be exported – not to favour our ways of life or family farming produce, but rather to deepen social iniquities. In order for these megaprojects to take place, more than five conservation units have been reduced in size. There are also plans to build more hydroelectric power stations apart from those that have already devastated the Amazon and continue to be a threat to us. The current scenario faced by education is precarious, despite Brazil having legislation capable of producing significant progress to compensate for historic shortcomings in this area.

The huge setback in this country’s education policy has caused the impoverishment of public education, primary and secondary education, denial of funding for federal universities thus compromising the ability of our youth to stay at university, apart from the setback in the rights guaranteed by affirmative action policies which has resulted in large numbers of indigenous and quilombola youths giving up university.

Within this context it is the lives of women that are most affected by the iniquities imposed by this model that seizes our time, makes us invisible in production relationships, criminalizes us, violates us daily, either though machismo or through the current government that legitimizes violence.

Despite the increase in violations in the Amazon, endorsed by the President of the Republic, we are adamant that we shall resist! They have joined forces to destroy the Amazon, but we have joined forces to defend it! And we call on all workers to join us in this struggle!

We defend International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169 that guarantees rights for our territory, in addition to the right to prior, free and informed consultation. We have prepared several Consultation Protocols and this is the only form of regulation that we accept. We shall resist in defence of Convention 169 and the 1988 Brazilian Federal Constitution.

We defend the strengthening of agroecology as an alternative to the capitalist model of agriculture. May the ways of living and working of the traditional communities be recognized and protected. It is us who protect the forest!

We defend democracy as our flagship in this historic moment of our country in which fascism is an evident and concrete fact.

We shall resist! Free the Amazon!

Paulo Guajajara is with us! Marielle Franco is with us! Free Lula!

Santarém, Western Pará, November 7th 2019


Associação de Mulheres Trabalhadoras Rurais de Belterra – AMABELA

Associação de Mulheres Trabalhadoras Rurais Flores do Campo

Associação de Mulhetes Trabalhadoras Rurais de Santarém

Associação Agroecológica Tijupá

Articulação das Mulheres da Amazônia Paraense

Coletivo de Estudantes de Direito Indígenas e Quilombolas - CEDIQ

Comissão Pastoral da Terra – CPT Prelazia de Itaituba

Confederação Nacional de Fortalecimento das Reservas Extrativistas Costeiras Marinhas - COFREM

Conselho Indígena Tapajós Arapiuns – CITA

Conselho Indigenista Missionário – CIMI

Coordenação Nacional da Comunidade Negras Rurais Quilombolas – CONAQ

Federação de órgãos de Assistência Social e Educacional – FASE

Federação das Associações de Moradores e Comunidades do Assentamento Agroextrativista da Gleba Lago Grande - FEAGLE

Federação das Organizações Quilombolas de Santarém – FOQS

Federação das Organizações Indígenas do Rio Negro - FOIRN

Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens – MAB

Movimento pela Soberania Popular na Mineração – MAM

Movimento dos Pequenos Agricultores - MPA

Movimento de Pescadores e Pescadoras - MPP

Movimento dos Trabalhadores e Trabalhadoras Rurais Sem Terra – MST

Organização do Povo Apurinã e Jamamadi da Boca do Acre - OPIAJBAM

Pastorais Sociais da Arquidiocese de Santarém

Sindicato dos Trabalhadores Rurais, Agricultores e Agricultoras Familiares de Santarém – STTR Santarém

Sindicato dos Trabalhadores Rurais, Agricultores e Agricultoras Familiares de Santarém – STTR Itaituba

Terra de Direitos

União das Mulheres Indígenas da Amazônia Brasileira - UMIAB

Actions: Human Rights Defenders
Axes: Human rights policy and culture