Founding partner of ISA, Márcio Santilli denounces the Bolsonarist attempt to take the Indigenous Parliamentary Front by storm. Article originally published on the Ninja Media website
Coronel Chrisóstomo is a federal deputy re-elected by the PL in Rondônia. Sometimes he parades through the Chamber in an army suit and cap. He is a member of the Public Safety Commission and the so-called “Bullet Bench”. In the pension reform, he voted for more flexible rules for the retirement of police officers, but rejected similar treatment for teachers. He participated in the parliamentary base of the previous government and, now, must be among the most radical opponents of President Lula in Congress.
Chrisóstomo has nothing indigenous about him, quite the contrary. He defends invaders of Indigenous Lands in his state and has never cared about the tragic situation of the Yanomami and other peoples engendered by the past government. Despite this, he filed a request with the Chamber to reconstitute the Parliamentary Front for the Defense of Indigenous Peoples, which was coordinated by former deputy Joênia Wapichana (Rede-RR), now president of the Indigenous Peoples Foundation (Funai).
This is not a sudden conversion to indigenism. The Bolsonarist deputy represents the state of Rondônia, but subverts the spirit of Marechal Rondon. On the contrary, his request lends itself to attempting a coup, to usurp the protagonism of the indigenous group in the reconstruction of the FPI in the legislature that begins. The objective is to invert his mission, making it an instrument of boycotting indigenous policies.
front and versus
As the saying goes, "no one kicks a dead cat". The parliamentary fronts are great political umbrellas and their formation depends on the support of around 200 parliamentarians. In general, they act intermittently. But the FPI was among the most active in the last legislature, under the coordination of deputy Joenia Wapichana (Rede-RR), with the support of indigenous organizations and a consistent agenda. The FPI played a fundamental role in resisting the setback in the policies of the Bolsonaro government, preventing, for example, the subordination of Funai to the Ministry of Agriculture and approving the implementation of a specific program to protect the indigenous population in the pandemic.
Joenia had an excellent mandate as the first indigenous woman to reach the Chamber. In the past elections, she increased her personal vote by 30%, but her party federation did not reach, in Roraima, the electoral quotient necessary to win a seat. At the invitation of President Lula himself, she will be Funai's first indigenous president.
Despite Joenia's non-reelection, two women directly linked to the indigenous movement were elected federal deputies in the last elections: Sônia Guajajara, for São Paulo, and Célia Xakriabá, for Minas Gerais, both from PSol. Sônia was nominated by Lula to direct the newly created Ministry of Indigenous Peoples and Célia will remain in the Chamber as the main reference of the indigenous movement.
Other elected parliamentarians also self-identify as indigenous, such as senators Hamilton Mourão (Republicanos-RS), former vice-president of the Republic, and the current Minister of Social Development, Wellington Dias (PT-PI), in addition to federal deputy Silvia Waiãpi (PL-AP). They are descendants of indigenous peoples, but do not participate in the indigenous movement and do not maintain ties, or are recognized as such, by their communities of origin.
Deputy Juliana Cardoso (PT-SP) also identifies herself as indigenous and promises to act forcefully in defense of the rights of indigenous peoples.
It would be more than natural that, in the legislature that begins, Célia Xakriabá would coordinate the FPI, succeeding Joênia. But that's where Colonel Chrisóstomo's fake request comes into play: the idea is to pull the rug out and overthrow Célia, converting the FPI into an anti-indigenous front, to be led by Silvia Waiãpi, from her party.
Sílvia Waiãpi is an Army lieutenant, was elected by the PL and is a “root” Bolsonarist. Leaders of the Waiãpi people have already said that they do not share the deputy's political positions and that she does not represent them. For her part, the Bolsonaro supporter is not committed to defending indigenous rights, although she identifies as indigenous: she opposes the demarcation of lands, defends predatory mining in these areas and the forced acculturation of indigenous peoples.
The parliamentary fronts are supra-party spaces, to deal with specific agendas. They are not to be confused with the permanent commissions, which approve opinions on bills and other legislative proposals to be voted on in plenary. The function of the fronts is to articulate and mobilize, to unite different forces based on common objectives.
Its coordination, almost always, is defined by consensus, between the most active parliamentarians in each theme. Only occasionally there is competition for them. Right now, there are four candidates to coordinate the Evangelical Parliamentary Front, but this is an exception and not the rule. Chrysostomo's request, however, is the first attempt to reverse the political objective of a front, in addition to usurping its coordination.
The race for the FPI illustrates well what we can expect from a highly polarized Congress, like the one that takes office this week. It is true that, never before in the country's history, have indigenous peoples had such a direct presence in the State, which will also influence the new Congress. But there's little attention: history teaches us that, in a white fight, it's always up to the indigenous peoples.