“I am a leader, I am a fighter and even if they kill me my blood will be like seed. We Karipuna will not leave our land: Brazil and the Planet need us, our true love for Nature”. Adriano Karipuna, 36, combines jeans, shirt and jacket with the typical headdress of the populations of the Amazon rainforest. His clothing says it all about him, a man rooted in his tradition, studying the laws and history of another culture to oppose his bullying. Karipuna was in Rome for the awareness and fundraising campaign “AMAzzonia”, promoted by the international cooperation association COSPE, and now he is in Europe to make known the situation of his people, the threats to which he and his people are constantly subjected and the policies of Jair Bolsonaro that are destroying the Amazon rainforest.
Your community in 1970 was reduced to only 4 people, today you are about sixty. How did you survive?
“My mother tells how my people started dying in the early twentieth century as a result of the diseases that were passed on to us by government officials, who came to protect us and to negotiate on the extent of our territory, and even earlier from who worked on the construction of the railway. Before we were 4 thousand, then the viruses, the aggressions of the siringueros and all those who wanted to grab the resources of our land almost led us to disappear. We were deported to Jassì, we were massacred and raped with unheard of ferocity, our recent history is a long list of violence perpetrated on all of us. To survive we had to give up and give up a large part of our territory, which previously covered 243,000 hectares and is now only 153,000 hectares. we had not accepted the proposal from Funai, the government body responsible for mapping and protecting the lands of indigenous communities, to renounce re to almost half of our territory we would have lost everything “.
Kayaking with the natives to see how the climate is changing the Amazon
by Matteo Marini
Despite the agreements, what remains there is severely threatened by further mining.
“Yes, in 2007 there were also the construction of two hydroelectric dams, which had a huge impact on our territory, nor does the deforestation activity stop, which continuously reduces our resources. We live by hunting and gathering, but we have fewer and fewer Amazonian nuts and açaí berries. Often we only have cassava flour to eat and sell. If we didn’t have the help of non-governmental organizations, we wouldn’t be able to survive. “
Are the effects of climate change felt more in territories like yours?
“Of course, it is not necessary to be a scientist to realize what is happening. Deforestation and climate change are dramatically changing the forest, our rivers are dry, the heat is increasingly intense, the fruit, the animals and the birds are fewer and they are different. At the same time we see animals that were not there before and since there are fewer birds due to deforestation there are more insects. I have seen the fastest changes especially from 2017 onwards “.
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by Mariella Bussolati
How do you try to cope with these disasters?
“For us it is not necessary to change, our culture is based on a deep respect for nature. We know when and how to reap the rewards to make sure we have enough and the forest is a sacred place to enter with great attention. When we hunt we do not kill. never a mother with cubs and if small fish end up in our nets we throw them back into the water. We prefer to starve than destroy a food source: Brazilians should learn from us, the world should learn our true love for nature “.
It has long been committed to making known the plight of your people and what is happening in the Amazon. He has spoken to the UN and in numerous international fora. What are the reactions that amaze you the most?
“Wherever I go, I perceive prejudice and racism. For me, in addition to the racism that divides by skin color, there are three other forms of racism: structural, patrimonial and environmental. The structural one concerns the organs of society from which communities such as mine are kept out, as they prevent us from working in public structures. We would need quotas, because it is clear that to compete with those who live in the city you should be number one. Patrimonial racism is that exercised by entities such as Funai or the ministry of health, which should protect us and instead, since the people who work there have preconceptions and are racists, they do not protect our rights. We have also seen with the pandemic, vaccines have been denied us. Finally, there is environmental racism: a we say that since we are few we need little territory, but then why do large landowners exist? This type of racism is also what allows the passing of laws that allow o to destroy the forest and drive us out of our land “.
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by Cristina Nadotti
How did your commitment to the rights of your people begin?
“I have always been a curious child. Even if going to school meant being bullied and making huge sacrifices, because for us Indians everything is more difficult, I wanted to learn to read and speak Portuguese. I read Marx, Durkheim, Martin Luther King and many history books. I understood that the struggle is essential to conquer one’s rights and that in history we are not the only ones to be exterminated, to have been expelled from our lands. It took me much longer than those who live in the city to be admitted to university, if it hadn’t been for racism and prejudices I could have gotten there sooner. But even if only now I’m enrolled in the second year of law I don’t think of the past years as a waste of time, because they helped me to understand , study and know “.
Why do you study laws?
“I wanted to do something that was useful for my people. I had also thought about medicine. Then I realized that although learning the legal language was difficult, many of the things I had to study I had already dealt with on my own, when I was trying to oppose injustices against my people “
From the Amazon to Romania: the struggle of those who say no
by Chiara Nardinocchi
What is the message you hope to spread on this tour in Europe?
“The Brazilians, all of you do not realize how much you owe to us natives, our role is fundamental to remind you that we must protect nature, we must invest in education and technology must not leave anyone behind. You must understand that we are not alone. we feel bad, we are perhaps the clearest example of what happens with the extreme exploitation of resources, but the whole world is in crisis. There are more and more poor people, lack of work and a few rich are always richer , not only in Brazil. As for us, I hope to make known the pressures we suffer to leave our land, the terror in which the women and children who are attacked along the river or on their way to the city live. that despite all this we will not give up. We are fighters, the Karipuna will not disappear “.
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