point of view

The indigenous art of negotiation

A arte indígena da negociação/ pueblos indígenas/ Indigenous peoples

If, on one hand, the federal government proves to have little ability to articulate, on the other, the indigenous peoples have been demonstrating throughout the world what it is to exercise the art of politics with a capital P. By openly dialoguing with everyone, with cunning, good arguments and serenity, they have conquered hearts and minds. In New York, in the United States, Eloy Terena, legal advisor for the Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), gave a lesson in planning to the shareholders of the world’s largest investment manager, BlackRock, at its annual meeting: he reminded them of what bad business it is to invest money in companies that are proven to cause damage to the environment and harm the rights of indigenous peoples.

The natives also shone at the Cannes film festival in France with Chief Raoni parading the power of the ancient indigenous culture on the world’s most famous red carpet. Before, the Kayapó leader was received by French president Emmanuel Macron with honors of head of State and left with the promise of support for the preservation of the Amazon; days later, it was turn to conquer the solidarity of Pope Francis. Meanwhile, here in Brazil, federal deputy Joênia Wapichana was fundamental for the approval of the opinion that foresees the return of Funai to the Ministry of Justice.

The main indigenous argument is irrefutable. Since it was not them who drew boundaries dividing the planet, they see it as everyone should: our common home. So everyone has their share of responsibility to keep it neat and livable.

The results of recent movements of indigenous leaders show that they have much more to teach us than we suppose. In New York, Eloy Terena, representing an investor-shareholder, made an emphatic speech at the BlackRock meeting. “You have responsibility over our future,” he said. Eloy has asked for an audit and restrictions on investments and purchases of commodities produced on properties located on indigenous lands or operating in conflict areas.

Emmanuel Macron welcomed Raoni and three other indigenous leaders (Kayula, Tapy Yawalapiti and Bemoro Metuktire) at the Élysée Palace. And in addition to promising financial aid for the Xingu Indigenous Park’s conservation project, threatened by loggers, land grabbers and prospectors, he undertook to discuss the issue with President Jair Bolsonaro during the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 28 and 29. The president also announced that France plans to host an international summit of indigenous peoples in June 2020.

Raoni was also in Brussels, where he participated in a youth-led climate event, and in Luxembourg, where he met Grand Duke Henri, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna, and received a donation of 100 thousand euros to be invested in the preservation of the Xingu.

In addition to winning the battle for FUNAI’s return to the Ministry of Justice, Joênia Wapichana won another battle: the opinion approved in the Chamber also predicts that the body will resume the function of demarcating indigenous lands, which had been transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture . Funai, who had been barely breathing for some time, almost received its coup de grâce with Provisional Measure (MP) 870, issued by the president on his first day of office. The text that modifies the MP now goes to the Senate for voting.

“I’ve always been a minority wherever I’ve gone. That has driven me to prove that we are capable, that the indigenous is not inferior and that given an opportunity, he will grab it, “said Joênia, shortly after being elected the first indigenous woman of the Congress. This talk that traditional peoples have much to teach us about the preservation of the environment is already getting old: now they are showing us how to debate to win. 

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