Recognition, Redistribution and Popular Participation: Towards an Integrative Judicial Policy

The Indians of Rio Grande do Sul and the Military Dictatorship

September 11th, 2018

The relationship that the military dictatorship had with the indigenous is still little known by a good portion of Brazilian society. From Volume II of the National Truth Commission / CNV Report (Appendix I) This started to change a bit. This document brings thematic texts, in which 5º speaks about human rights violations of indigenous peoples. CNV itself states that the result shows only “a small portion of what was perpetrated against the Indians” (p. 204). This way, there is still much to deepen.

Indeed, after this exposure of certain crimes, the mainstream media gave attention and prepared some articles on the subject. Also noteworthy is the work of Rubens Valente, “The Rifles and the Arrows”, which, from the CNV Report and other documents, was able to systematize a good overview of the complaints that have hitherto existed on the Regime in relation to this subject. . A very valuable document, the so-called Figueiredo Report[1], was the result of the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry / CPI on the Indian Protection Service / SPI, which culminated in its extinction and the creation of the National Indian Foundation / FUNAI (1967). The CPI aimed to reach previous governments, but demonstrated that the practice did not change, which led the dictatorship to create the new body.

Soon after came the time of the so-called “economic miracle”, the great works, the expansion of the agricultural frontier, the encouragement of mining companies, which led to numerous conflicts in indigenous territories. During this period the Krenak Reformatory was created in Resplendor / MG and the Indigenous Rural Guard- GRIN. The Reformatory was a prison to which Indians were taken who had committed crimes and misdemeanors, denying the majority due legal process, but not only. If the way of life paid attention to the morals and customs of Brazilian society or if the Indian were a hindrance to the projects of the dictatorship and their partners, they could also be taken there. This is what attests to the Public Civil Action filed by the Federal Public Prosecution Service in Minas Gerais, in the year of 2015 (Appendix II). As for GRIN, 18's November O Globo Journal of 1969 says that the purpose of the training was to form a “white soldier” and did so. It was another source of social breakdown and it reproduced the violence suffered. Jesco von Puttmaker's “Arara” film presents GRIN's graduation parade in Belo Horizonte / MG, where they show that they have even learned torture techniques[2].

But as all these documents point out, in several states of the federation the Military Regime brought negative consequences to the indigenous. At the last meeting of the Justice Forum in Rio Grande do Sul[3](24 / 08), Sandro Luckmanndo, Indigenous Peoples Mission Council- COMIN, has brought documents indicating this. The article “The Trajectory of Freedom” (Appendix III) by Andila Inácio Belforte, belonging to the Kaigang ethnic group of Rio Grande do Sul, was one of them. In the text she tells about a bilingual school that the state forced them to participate in the early 70, where they suffered physical punishment, where they imposed different customs and even tried to perform biopiracy of their knowledge about plants. The article concludes that they were used to teach Portuguese, starting the process of decharacterization and abbreviating the integration of the Kaigang to the "national society". Even after the training received, they suffered discrimination from other FUNAI teachers.

There is also a letter from Andila, from 07 June 1975, addressed to the President of the Republic, asking for help to the Kaigang people (Appendix IV). The document deals with the occupation of farmers on Indian lands, the destruction of their forests and the extinction of animals. It speaks of the damage that they were suffering to lifestyle, and that the whites were taking the reason of living of the indigenous. In the letter, it refers to the July 21 deadline of 1975, which would have been given for delivery of the Kaigang lands, which were still in this expectation. Already in another July 25 letter from 2004 (Appendix V) Andila says that in the 40 and 50 years a militarized regime was imposed on the villages. And this model was intensified during the Military Dictatorship, already in the administration of FUNAI, that is, after the Figueiredo Report mentioned above. This model has caused damage to its organization and brings reflexes to this day. There is another document, this one by Guilherme Cristão and Diva C. Claudino, stating that, through this militarized model imposed on the villages, there was enslavement of the indigenous people (Appendix VI). They suffered physical punishment, forced labor, limitation of the right to come and go, and only earned a bar of soap at the end of the week.

In debate at the Culture Club[4], in their “Ecological Days”, on the last 27 of August, entitled “The Indians and the Military Dictatorship”, the Kaigang Eli Fidelis, Odirlei Fidelis and Douglas Kaigang confirmed the allegations found in the above documents regarding the Indians in Rio. Great South. Eli Fidelis was a child, but reported forced labor, in which children, women, and the elderly were required to participate in the same way. He told of the physical punishments and that neither the production nor the income remained with the Village. Probably the one who benefited somehow was the head of FUNAI's post, a non-Indian. The same that indicated who would be the "colonel", the chief among them.

At this time, Eli lived in a village in Nonoai-RS, but could never go to Chapecó-SC, for example, which was nearby, because there was a strong restriction of indigenous exit in the village. They needed a concierge, which limited their right to come and go. Disobeying, they suffered physical punishment. Those who fled or left without a concierge tried not to speak their language so as not to be discovered. Another point denounced was the question of language, as did Andila. At that time they were fed by the so-called "panões" during forced labor. Even though they were of dubious quality, that was what they had. If they spoke their language, one of the punishments was to be without food. Ordilei and Douglas did not live this period, but brought the reports of the elders. According to them, there are still many alive and who can testify on the subject. Ordilei is the brother of Eli Fidelis, but Douglas took stories from another village, Guarita.

This is the challenge for Brazilian society and its state regarding the justice, memory and truth of these indigenous communities in Rio Grande do Sul. The Federal Prosecutor's Office in Minas Gerais has already shown that the way is possible in its action on what the krenak suffered[5]. There is a need for and fair compensation as well as accountability of those involved.

Rodrigo de Medeiros Silva[6]

[1] Available in: Accessed on: 05 set 2018.

[2] Available in: Access on: 05 from set 2018.

[3] Available in: Accessed on: 05 set 2018.

[4] Available in: Accessed on: 05 set 2018.

[5] Available: Accessed on: 05 set 2018.

[6] Member of RENAP and Forum Justice, Specialist in Civil Law and Civil Procedural Law at IDC and Master in Human Rights at UniRitter