Letter from the Munduruku Chiefs

“We are tired of waiting for the government!”

We are the chiefs of the Munduruku people, gathered in a general assembly that took place on from April 24-27, 2021 in the village Waro Apompu. 72 chiefs and more than 500 Munduruku were present. We discuss all the “projects of death” that are already affecting our territory. We have gathered because we believe that through organizing, conversation, and solidarity, we will find the solutions to these problems.

We discussed the Pusuru Organization and how it is being manipulated to destroy our territory, disrespect our chiefs, and disregard the lives of our people. We decided to extinguish it, so that they stop using it against our people, against our river and territory. We are sick: without fresh water the fish and game are disappearing. Community Associations are supposed to help the people and not to help destroy our future.

We discussed the issue of the demarcation of the Sawré Muybu Territory and Sawré Bapin territory. The government has to demarcate indigenous territories and must not support those wanting to exploit indigenous lands.

We discussed the role of the chief, who must take care of his or her people, and not allow them to enter into the projects of the pariwat (whites). The teacher’s role is to bring true information. And the health professional’s role is to take care of the lives of our people. These important leaders cannot be involved in the exploitation of our territory. Today, after so many studies it’s impossible not to know what is wrong: especially the government projects that do the will of the pariwat who come to invade our region.

We do not want Bill 191/20 that Jair Bolsonaro’s federal government wants to approve to allow mining throughout our territory, without consulting and without the consent of the people. This is a death project that is sowing division between our people, bringing violence, and they are attacking women and leaders who fight for the defense of the territory. The pariwat are using the name of our Munduruku people in favor of this law, Bill 191. No senator, deputy or councilor can speak for the Munduruku people, nor even say that they represent the people.

It is us who decide what we want for our territory. And we want to show that we are here; this man who calls himself president of Brazil does not represent us. A president worth the name would first have to respect Indigenous Peoples and their territories. We need life, not death. We know that this law will bring more prostitution, drugs, diseases and mercury. The state’s duty is to protect and not encourage entry into our territory.

Our Nation comprises over 140 villages throughout the middle and upper courses of the Tapajós River and the lower Teles Pires River. We are warriors, and we will always protect what is ours. The National Congress cannot approve this bill without even listening to us. We do not want them to sit with small pro-mining groups, these people cannot speak for the whole people.

No association has the right to represent the Munduruku people in isolation. For this we have the consultation protocol of the Munduruku people, developed in accordance with International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 169, for the purpose of prior, free and informed consultation.

We are autonomous. It is we ourselves who is in this fight, for decades now. Our organizations, especially the Ypereg Ayu Movement and the organizations that collaborate with it, are long in this struggle for our rights. We work independently, without depending on the government.

We are tired of waiting for the government.

We understand very clearly our constitutional rights, enshrined in a document that is the supreme law of the land.

The chiefs hereby formalize and communicate our resistance to government projects that violate the rights of the Indigenous peoples of Brazil, and here we speak exclusively on behalf of the Munduruku. We defend lives. We defend human beings, animals, forests, rivers and all forms of life existing in nature. Our motto will always be to promote safety, protection, and well-being for all.

Waro Apompu Village, Munduruku Indigenous Land, April 26, 2021.

-Translated by Jeremy M. Campbell, 1 May 2021

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