Sunday, 22 June 2014
NEW - THE AMERINDIAN GHOSTS OF THE WORLD CUP (TAKEN FROM SURVIVAL INTERNATIONAL)
When the first Europeans arrived in Brazil in 1500 it was home to over 10 million Indians. Five centuries of murder, torture, disease and exploitation ravaged this population, and by the 1950s their population had plummeted to an all time low of about 100,000.
Eminent senator and anthropologist Darcy Ribeiro estimated that last century one tribe became extinct every year. He also predicted there would not be a single Indian left by 1980. Almost 1,500 tribes are believed to have become extinct since 1500.
Others are so reduced in size that they number fewer than the 11 people in a football team:
5: Akuntsu tribe (Rondônia state)
4: Juma tribe (Amazonas state)
3: Piripkura tribe (Rondônia state)
2: Indians of the Tapirapé River (Maranhão state). (One may now be dead)
1: ‘The Last of his Tribe’/ ‘The Man in the Hole’ (Rondônia state)
The smallest stadium, in Curitiba (capacity: 41,456), would fit the largest Amazon tribe (the Tikuna: population 40,000) with seats to spare.
The largest capacity stadium is the Maracanã in Rio (capacity: 76,804). The audience will be significantly greater than Brazil’s largest tribe, the Guarani (population: 51,000) some of whom live just 50 km from Rio.
Brazil’s government has racked up a bill of US$ 791 million to pay for security during the World Cup. A similar sum would pay the annual budget of its cash-strapped Indian Affairs Department at least three times over.
FIFA says: ‘Officially, however, it is Portuguese Pedro Alvares Cabral who is regarded as the discoverer of Brazil. His fleet, in search of the Indias, sailed into the South of modern-day Bahia on 22 April 1500.’
Indian leader Davi Kopenawa Yanomami says: ‘The whites shout out today ‘We discovered the land of Brazil’. This is nothing less than a lie. It existed from the time that Omame, the creator, created us and it. Our ancestors have known this land for ever. She was not discovered by the whites. But the whites continue lying among themselves thinking that they discovered this land! As if it was empty! ‘We discovered this land. We have books and therefore we are important!’ say the whites. But these are lies. The only thing the whites did was to steal the lands from the peoples of the forest and destroy them. I am the son of ancient Yanomami and I live in the forest where my people lived when I was born and I don’t go around telling the whites I discovered it! I don’t say I discovered this land because my eyes fell on it, so therefore I own it. It was always there, before my time. I don’t say ‘I discovered the sky’. Nor do I shout, ‘I discovered the fish and I discovered the animals!’ They have always been there since the beginning of time.’
FIFA says: ‘The Brazilian rainforest is another source of natural riches, including tung oil, rubber, carnauba oil, caroa fibre, medicinal plants, vegetable oils, resins, timber for construction and various woods used in furniture-making. Brazil has also begun mining fairly recently, again taking advantage of its abundant natural resources.’
The reality: The rainforest is not just a ‘source of natural riches’, it is the ancestral home of hundreds of thousands of Indians, and much of it has been stolen from them or destroyed. Mining on Indian land has been going on for decades.
FIFA says:‘Brazil has roughly 190 million inhabitants, making it the fifth most populated country on Earth. Almost 75 per cent of them are Catholics, whilst another 26 million are Protestants. Brazil’s Jewish community is very small by comparison.’
‘The official language is Portuguese, however many Brazilians speak other languages according to their origins. German and Italian, for example, are fairly prevalent in the cities of the South.’
The reality:The overwhelming majority of languages spoken in Brazil are indigenous – more than 200.
Some indigenous peoples in Brazil have their own football-type sports.
The Pareci, for example, who live 100 km from Cuiabá stadium, play xikunahity. The game is played by two teams of 10 men in a rectangle, similar in size to a football pitch, who butt a ball made of mangaba fruit with the head. Usually one Pareci village challenges another to a game. Each player brings objects like fishing hooks and line to the game, and bets are laid.
The Enawene Nawe, 400 km from Cuiabá, also play head football.
Coca Cola uses an image of a smiling Indian drinking Coke in its advertising. But the firm is sourcing sugar from food giant Bunge – which in turn buys sugar cane from land stolen from the Guarani.
A Guarani spokesman has said, ‘Coca-Cola must stop buying sugar from Bunge. While these companies profit, we are forced to endure hunger, misery, and killings’.
Brazil’s Indians need your help. Without outside support, they stand little chance of survival.
Brazil is home to more uncontacted tribes than anywhere else on the planet. They are the most vulnerable of all the country’s peoples.
They depend completely on their forest for their survival, but much of it is being destroyed for logging, cattle ranching, mega-dams, roads, oil and gas exploration, and more. The government and landowners now plan to open up their lands further, to massive industrial projects.
These projects and the waves of immigrants they attract threaten to wipe out entire uncontacted communities, as has tragically happened to countless tribes in Brazil since it was colonized by the Europeans 500 years ago.
Only with their lands intact and protected for their exclusive use, will uncontacted tribes survive. This is one of the most urgent humanitarian crises of our time.
To learn more about the history of Brazil’s Indians, read Survival’s report ‘Disinherited’, which tells their story from the European invasion until 2000.