Tashka Yawanawá, Chief of the Yawanawá People, tried to comment on yesterday’s post on REDD-Monitor about REDD and payments for environmental services in Acre, Brazil. Unfortunately his comment got caught in the spam folder. It’s posted below in the interests of generating further discussion.
Tashka Yawanawá’s story is an interesting one. The son of the former leader of the Yawanawá, at the age of 10 he became so ill with tuberculosis, malaria and hepatitis that the tribe’s shaman could not cure him. His father had no choice other than to allow missionaries to take him to Rio Branco for treatment. The missionaries wanted Tashka to study in the Mission school and become a priest. Instead, he broke ties with the missionaries and in the 1980s he got involved in the local indigenous movement.
He studied in Rio de Janeiro and the US. In 2001, he returned to his tribe in Acre and at 25 became the youngest ever leader of the Yawanawá. As leader he has reinvigorated Yawanawá culture. He regularly speaks at international conferences and the UN. The Yawanawá have worked with cosmetic company Aveda for nearly 20 years, supplying the company with pigment harvested from the urukum tree. In 2006, actor Joaquin Phoenix travelled with 4Real TV to visit Tashka and the Yawanawá tribe.
Tashka Yawanawa first posted this comment on his blog last week. It is posted below in English and Portuguese. Tashka refers to two videos featuring Ninawá Huni Kui, President of the Huni Kui Federation. The first, in which Ninawá mentions REDD and the demarcation process is here (starting at 1:58) and the second in which he talks about threats to people in Acre who speak out against REDD is here.
We have to fight for truth, even if it is against our own desires and vanities
I have followed via social networks, the meeting in California organized by some environmental organizations on REDD. To the surprise of many indigenous organizations that are currently organizing seminars and meetings to discuss the issue to understand the system, the discussion in California was characterized as NO REDD. Nothing against those who are for or those who are against, currently my position is neutral, I want to better understand before making any hasty decision that could jeopardize the future of my people of our planet.
This discussion is very similar to the missionary vision, in that anyone who is in favor is going to hell and anyone who is against going to heaven. I think these guys have been reading too much of Alex Polares’ book, in which he shouts, with the words of John the Baptist, instead of The Voice that cries out in the Desert, he says the Voice that Cries out in the Forest. On both sides, people have been co-opted with the mission of converting traditional communities in REDD supporters, just as there are those who are against and preach terrorism and the end of the world if someone who is in favor of REDD projects takes a chance to speak.
Personally I prefer to snuggle on a hammock (‘REDE’ in Portuguese) on a paxiuba floor and feel the cool breeze of the air blow across my face. I’d rather not go to heaven or to hell, but fight here on earth to make our paradise here. UTOPIAS cannot die.
Jose Carmelio Niinawa – President of the Hunikui Federation – was a presenter. To my surprise, I saw an interview of Niinawa last week in which he vehemently argued that the demarcation of indigenous lands in Acre have stalled because of REDD projects. With this statement Niinawa, takes all the blame away from the agriculture caucus of the Brazilian Congress, the mining projects in indigenous lands, oil exploration projects, the Decree 303 of the Brazil’s Office of the Solicitor-General (AGU), by which, so cowardly and arbitrarily, the government wants to take away all the rights of indigenous peoples conquered throughout the history of our country, etc … Under the hypothesis that REDD is one of the causes of the stoppage of demarcation of indigenous lands, we could say that there are ‘other small things’.
I also saw in a recent interview that he said he is receiving death threats because of denouncing the abuses of the REDD project in Acre … Here in this small Acre, I never heard of such a threat…never let yourself be carried away by vanity to impress people or call attention of the media making up a hairy story like that. It is necessary to be responsible and serious when making such assertions, to not run the risk of losing credibility so that when you really need the space of media, people do not take it seriously…
Chief of the Yawanawa People and Coordinator of Associação Sociocultural Yawanawa
Note 1: Decree 303/2012 contains a provision that would permit the construction of “strategic” infrastructure projects such as roads, hydroelectric dams and mines in indigenous territory without consulting the affected peoples and communities.
Temos que lutar pela verdade, mesmo que seja contra nossas próprias vontades e vaidades
Tenho acompanhado pela redes sociais, o encontro organizado por algumas organizações ambientalistas Californiana sobre o REDD. Para a surpresa de muitas organizações indígenas que estão nesse momento organizando seminários e encontros para debater o tema para entender o sistema, a discurssao na Califórnia se pautou no NO REDD. Nada contra quem são a favor ou quem são contra.. atualmente minha posição e neutral, quero entender melhor, para não tomar nenhum decisão precipitada que possa comprometer o futuro do meu povo de nosso planeta.
Esssa discurssao ta parecendo muito com a visão missionária, de que, quem for a favor vai para o inferno, quem for contra vai para o ceu. Acho que essa galera, andam lendo demais o livro de Alex Polares, o qual ele troglodita, com as palavras de João Batista, em vez de A Voz que Clama no Deserto, ele diz A Voz que Clama na Floresta. De dois lados, temos pessoas cooptadas com a missão de converter comunidades tradicionais em adeptos REDD, assim como temos os que são contra que pregam o terrorismo e o fim do mundo caso alguém se arrisque a falar que e a favor dos projetos de REDD.
Pessoalmente prefiro me aconchegar numa REDE numa assoalho de paxiuba e sentir a brisa fresca do ar tocar na minha cara.. Prefiro não ir nem pro céu e nem para o inferno, mais de lutar aqui naterra e fazer daqui o nosso paraíso. AS UTOPIAS não podem morrer.
Tiveram como expositor o Jose Carmelio Niinawa – presidente da Federação Hunikui. Para minha surpresa vi uma entrevista do Niinawa na semana passada, no qual ele afirmava veemente que as demarcações das terras indígenas do Acre, estão paralisadas por conta dos projetos de REDD. Com esta afirmação Niinawa tira toda a culpa da bancada ruralista, dos projetos de mineração em terras indigenas, projetos de exploração de petróleo, decreto 303 da AGU que de forma covarde e harbitraria o governo quer tirar todos os direitos dos povos indigenas conquistados ao longo da historia de nosso pais, etc… Na hipótese de o REDD ser um dos causadores da paralisação das demarcações das terras indigenas. poderíamos dizer que existem `otras cositas a mas`.
Novamente vejo em entrevista recente onde afirma que estavas sendo ameaçado de morte por conta de esta denunciando os abusos do projeto de REDD no Acre… Aqui neste pequeno Acre, nunca ouvi falar de tal ameaca.. nunca se pode deixar-se levar pela vaidade para impressionar as pessoas ou chamar atencao da mídia inventando uma historia cabeluda como essa. E preciso ter muita responsabilidade e seriedade em fazer tais afirmacoes, para não correr o risco de perder credibilidade e na hora que realmente precisar do espaço da Mídia, as pessoas não levarem a serio…
PHOTO credit: Tashka Yawanawa’s Facebook page.