Indigenous spokesman dismissed from Brazilian government

Kayapó Indians dance at a protest against the Belo Monte dam
Kayapó Indians dance at a protest against the Belo Monte dam
© Terence Turner/Survival

Megaron Txucarramãe, an indigenous spokesman from the Brazilian Amazon, has been dismissed from his post in the government’s Indian Affairs Department, FUNAI.

Megaron, of the Kayapó tribe, has stated that his dismissal is a result of his opposition to the Belo Monte dam, which is being constructed on the Amazon region’s Xingu river.

The Belo Monte dam threatens to cause huge devastation to the forest and to fish stocks, upon which thousands of Indians rely.

It has sparked widespread opposition, amongst Indians, river communities, environmentalists, scientists and experts, and Brazil’s Public Ministry.

The Kayapó have appealed Megaron’s dismissal and stated that he has always fought ‘for the survival of all the indigenous peoples of Brazil’, and that he ‘is the best person to defend and fight for our interests and rights, as he always has done’.

Indigenous spokeswoman Sheyla Juruna, who travelled to Europe earlier this year to protest against the dam, was beaten up last week by opponents to the project, as a result of her campaigning.

In response to an appeal by the Public Ministry calling for the Indians’ constitutional rights to be respected, a judge recently stated that the Indians need not be consulted about the dam before the project proceeds, and that they are ‘privileged’ to have the right to be consulted at all.

This extraordinary assertion contradicts both the Brazilian constitution and Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization, both of which stipulate that indigenous peoples must be consulted about developments on their land.

Kayapó spokesman Raoni Metuktire recently warned the UN that the dam is causing ‘major suffering and negative effects for my people and my relatives’.