The images of the Yanomami people in skin and bones shock the world. In an article this Thursday, the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia speaks of “horrifying images” and highlights: “570 dead children”. For the Barcelona publication, the responsibility seems clear. “There are many indications that members of the Bolsonaro government are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of children.” The conduct of Damares Alves and evangelical sectors are particularly pointed out.
“Hundreds of children have died due to the severe malnutrition that their communities suffer with the impact of the contamination of rivers with mercury from illegal minerals, protected by the Bolsonaro government”, says reporter Andy Robinson.
“Images of skeletal children in Africa or Asia are not lacking in the charity campaigns of the powerful right-wing Christian churches in Brazil. But the horrifying photos of the Yanomami indigenous people, published on the cover of all Brazilian newspapers this week, will not be so easily used by the ‘Bible caucus’ in Congress, nor by its former evangelical ministers in the government of Jair Bolsonaro”, he ironizes.
“Fully incorporated into government power and the National Foundation for the Indigenous People (Funai) during Bolsonaro’s presidency, there are many indications that they themselves are responsible for the deaths of children whose thousands are in a serious state of malnutrition”, he points out.
“There are many indications that members of the Bolsonaro government are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of children.”
“One of the bolsonaristas who are in the crosshairs of the investigation is the former Minister of Women, Family and Human Rights Damares Alves, an evangelical pastor, and a close ally of Bolsonaro and his neo-baptist wife Michelle”, he mentions.
“One in three of the 570 children fell victim to pneumonia. Others from malaria and viruses. But what increased lethality was malnutrition”.
“But the most lethal weapon on this occasion is the mercury used to separate the gold from the rock. After the contamination of the rivers, fishing, the main source of livelihood for the majority of people in the Amazon, is increasingly unfeasible”.
The Barcelona newspaper questions Damares’ version. “Alves, Bolsonarist idol who was elected senator on October 30, described the problem of hunger among indigenous peoples as a ‘historical dilemma (…) we must face the root of the problem. I have always questioned the isolation policy imposed on some (indigenous) communities’, he said”.
“But the humanitarian crisis of the Yanomami is not a problem of isolation, but exactly the opposite. Hunger and disease arrived with the invasion of the territory by tens of thousands of illegal miners in search of gold armed, as in previous centuries, with rifles, germs and some bible from the Assembly of God church”.
“Alves participated in the decision to hire an evangelical NGO, Missão Caiuá, which pocketed most of the budget for indigenous health in the Yanomami land, privatizing the work of the Indigenous Health Secretariat (SESAI). The corporate motto of the Caiuá Mission is: ‘To be at the service of the Indian for the Glory of God’”, he points out.
La Vanguardia recalls Damares’ past and indicates the former minister’s negligent attitude towards the real disasters experienced by the Amazonian peoples while she invented fake news.
“Alves – who adopted an indigenous girl in the state of Mato Grosso more than 20 years ago – is another avenue of police investigation, related to the NGO Atina Voice for Life, which the senator created with a group of American neo-Pentecostals. According to the indictment, she is responsible for the kidnapping of several indigenous children in Mato Grosso”.
“Few forget that Alves promoted the decision to appoint former missionary Ricardo Lopes Dias, from the US NGO Nuevas Tribus, as the person in charge of uncontacted peoples at FUNAI”.
“But perhaps the most striking example that Alves was the fox in the henhouse in his attributions with indigenous children was the declaration in the middle of the electoral campaign that dozens of children on Ilha de Marajó, in Roraima, were victims of a network of pedophiles linked to to the PT”, he says.
“It was a conspiracy theory, fake news that served as a smokescreen to hide the real crimes against indigenous children,” said Marcio Meira, former president of Funai. When a twelve-year-old Yanomami child died after being raped by prospectors, Alves simply said: ‘It happens every day’”.
The newspaper in the Catalan capital points to a responsibility that goes back to the Temer government.
“The outsourcing of indigenous health to this evangelical NGO dates back much before Bolsonaro. He signed large contracts with the government of Michel Temer with the intervention of the powerful senator of Roraima Romero Jucá, president of Funai between 1986 and 1988, when he allowed the entry of thousands of prospectors into the Yanomami reserve, a reminder that no atrocity is new in the Amazon Brazilian”.
On the other hand, the Catalan newspaper highlights the commitment of the current government. “The new Lula government put the indigenous Joenia Wapichawa, from Roraima, at the head of Funai and committed to putting an end to illegal mining in the Amazon”.
“Although no one wants to give details so as not to lose the surprise factor, everything indicates that in the next few weeks there will be a major police operation against the miners, which will include the arrests of garimpeiros and the destruction of machinery”.
“While acting against garimpeiros, it intends to demand responsibility at all levels of public administration. 43 Funai directors, many of them military, were dismissed”, he reports.
It is not new that the horror experienced by indigenous peoples under the Bolsonaro government has drawn international attention. Exactly two years ago, the DCM reported the repercussion of the complaints to the International Criminal Court in the foreign media. “In Brazil, indigenous people pay a high price to exist”, said the Franco-German TV ARTE.
No one can say they didn’t know.