The presidency of Funai (Fundação Nacional do Índio) decided to vacate a decisive position for the inspection, monitoring and development of the Vale do Javari indigenous land, in the state of Amazonas.
The function is still considered fundamental for the protection of isolated and recently contacted peoples who live in the territory.
The position has been vacant for more than a year, since May 2021. The office of the president of Funai, Marcelo Augusto Xavier da Silva, has denied three times the appointment of an effective server for the role.
The request for the appointment was made by the coordination of Funai in the region — the agency’s unit is in Atalaia do Norte (AM), the closest city to the indigenous land.
The information was confirmed by Sheet with three sources with knowledge of the subject.
The absence of a career officer who works in inspection creates, in practice, an incentive for the advancement of illegal fishing and hunting in the region where the indigenist Bruno Pereira and the British journalist Dom Phillips were killed.
These illegal activities are now the main line of investigation to establish a motive for the crime.
The position that remains vacant is that of head of the Segat (Environmental and Territorial Management Service), which can only be occupied by a civil servant on the permanent staff.
The exoneration of the last person in charge took place in May 2021. After that, a request for the appointment of a permanent servant was sent to Brasília, passed through technical areas and ended up being barred by the presidency of Funai.
The request was reiterated twice, and denied again on both occasions, according to sources heard by the Sheet. The claim of the presidency of the organ were factors of “convenience and opportunity”.
The head of Segat is responsible for articulating with bodies such as Ibama (Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) and the Army for inspection and repression of environmental crimes in the region of the indigenous land.
The most frequent articulations are with the Army, due to the almost complete absence of Ibama in the Vale do Javari region.
With Segat’s position vacant, inspection and monitoring operations practically ceased to take place in the indigenous land and its surroundings.
Without supervision, according to reports made to the Sheetillegal fishing and hunting activities became increasingly intense in the region, inside and outside the indigenous land.
The special interest of the predatory activity is for the arapaima, an expensive fish that cannot be fished out of a management plan; and the tracajá, a tortoise much appreciated by Colombians —Atalaia do Norte is on the triple border between Brazil, Peru and Colombia.
The deaths of Bruno and Dom, who went missing for 11 days after crossing the Itaquaí River near the indigenous land, are related to illegal fishing and hunting activities in the region, according to investigations by the Civil Police of Amazonas and the Federal Police.
Fisherman Amarildo Oliveira, known as Pelado, confessed to participating in the murder of the two, according to information released by the PF. Pelado said the crime was related to the barriers imposed by Pereira to illegal fishing activity.
Bruno was a Funai employee and took his leave of absence from the agency after being exonerated from the post of general coordinator for Isolated Indians and Recent Contact.
He started working at Univaja (União dos Povos Indígenas do Vale do Javari) and was instrumental in structuring the indigenous surveillance service, made up of populations living in the demarcated territory.
Indigenous surveillance ends up playing the role that government agencies should play.
The emptying of these organs, as is the case of the lack of a Segat chief at Funai in Atalaia do Norte, and the advance of illegal activities, especially pirarucu fishing, led to the structuring of the indigenous surveillance service.
Funai has had more than 30 employees at the unit in Atalaia do Norte for more than 10 years. Today, there are 12. The coordination is responsible for the Vale do Javari indigenous land and four other demarcated territories in the region.
Until it became vacant, Segat was mainly focused on an attempt to inspect and repress illegal fishing and hunting activities, in conjunction with the Army.
Today, Funai’s inspection bases at the entrance of indigenous lands are primarily responsible for attempts to identify illegal activities in these territories.
When contacted, Funai did not respond to questions sent by the Sheet.
Last Tuesday (14th), the Sheet showed that the federal government abandoned the existing rural settlement and arapaima management plan in the region where Pereira and Phillips disappeared. The initiatives today are restricted to worn signs installed at points on the banks of the Itaquaí River.
The abandonment of the PAE (Agroextractive Settlement Project) Lago de São Rafael, created in 2011 to settle 200 riverside families, and the pirarucu management plan contributed to the increase in fishing and illegal hunting in the region.
A federal government plaque installed near the São Rafael community, the last place visited by Pereira and Phillips before their disappearance, indicates that there is an agro-extractive settlement there, with the responsibility of being developed by Incra (National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform).
The sign is located next to a house, which was supposed to be a checkpoint run by Incra and Ibama. The environmental agency would be responsible for overseeing the sustainable management plan for arapaima.
There are no inspectors or investments in the settlement and inspection. In this scenario, in 2021, riverside dwellers were left without a quota for the amount of arapaima that can be legally fished in community lakes, say the residents themselves; and there are no Incra and Ibama employees in Atalaia, according to the city’s mayor, Denis Paiva (União Brasil).
The Incra unit in Benjamin Constant, a neighboring municipality, was closed in 2021, according to the mayor.