Twenty-two Amerindian leaders, representing 16 Amerindian villages in Bahia state’s Deep South, and Funai’s (National Foundation for Indians) offices in Porto Seguro and Itamaraju took part in the 3rd Annual Amerindian Chiefs’ Meeting, promoted by Ve
The aim of the meeting was to present achievements in 2011 and planning for 2012 by the partnership between Veracel and Amerindian communities. Veracel’s specialist in the company’s Relationship with Traditional Communities, Eunice Britto, made a presentation to the Amerindian leaders on the company’s investments in Amerindian communities, in line with the premise of supporting projects designed to make improvements in the areas of education, health and preservation of the communities’ traditional identity, with emphasis on the delivery of school kits.
“This year we’re going to distribute 3,050 kits, extending benefits for students in the EJA (Education for Young People and Adults),” stressed Britto in connection with the action, which has been carried out for four years, catering to over 3 thousand pupils from villages in the company’s area of activity. Shealso stated that the company will keep up its support for building classrooms and cultural centers in the communities. According to Renato Carneiro, Veracel’s Sustainability manager, “We want to evolve. We’re looking for projects providing better prospects for the future, especially for young people”.
“This meeting also serves the purpose of reaffirming our partnership with the Amerindian communities, particularly our agreement to stand by any juristic decision regarding the company’s area within the Study for Extending Amerindian Territory, as divulged four years ago,” recalled Eunice Britto. Even though Veracel’s property accounts for less than 6% of the total area claimed by the Amerindian community, the company considers it important to present its position.
Human Rights: the war on violence and sexual exploitation.
The presentation on the results of Project EPI (Identity Protection Space) developed in partnership with the NGO Tribo Jovem and the State Secretariat for Social Development and the War on Poverty has benefited 1,484 people in six Amerindian communities (Aldeia Vermelha, Aldeia Velha, Patiburí, Mata Medonha, Boca da Mata and Barra Velha). EPI’s objective is to offer specialist attention to individuals and families whose rights have been violated endeavoring to ensure them the assistance needed to develop their potential while respecting Amerindian culture. According to Chief Antônio Pataxó of Aldeia Velha, following the implementation of EPI there has been a change in his community. “The project has strengthened our families. We’d like it to continue, so we can strengthen our formation and cultural identity, mainly our children’s. They are the future of our village,” he reckons.
“Our community has a better understanding of its rights. Several instances of violation of our rights and abuse have been reported by the families themselves,”said Chief Aruã Pataxó of the village of Coroa Vermelha, who is also the president of the Federation of Amerindian Communities in the Deep South of Bahia State. Veracel’s specialist in theRelationship with Traditional Communities disclosed that since the implementation of the Integral Protection Space, a number of instances of abuse of the rights of children and adolescents have been reported.“Twenty-two such reports are being examined by Public Prosecutors. This year we should extend this important project to other villages,” she states.
Market Garden and Environmental Education
Among the results of the Market Garden at School Program, is the objective of remedying a deficiency in school meals, a demand of the Amerindian communities themselves. Initially, the program is to be put in place at Coroa Vermelha’s Pataxó Amerindian School, which has 900 pupils. In addition to contributing to reinforce school meals, the project will contribute orientation on Environmental Education and use of organic waste to make fertilizer.
Ongoing Dialog – In late February, 20 truckloads of the company’s eucalyptus were prevented from continuing their journey by representatives of the villages of Meio da Mata, Boca da Mata, Barra Velha and Cassiano. This protest stemmed from the lack of improvements to a highway, which the villages requested Veracel to perform. However, the highway is in the vicinity of a conservation unit, and any work on the road could only be undertaken with the consent of ICMBIO (Chico Mendes Biodiversity Conservation Institute).“I wasn’t aware that Veracel didn’t have authorization to enter the area,” stated Chief Alfredo Santana of Boca da Mata village, who is also the chairman of Monte Pascoal Chiefs’ Council. Once the misunderstanding was explained to the community, operations returned to normal. At the end of all this, Chief Aruã stressed the lesson learned. “We must try and maintain a dialog. We must remember that a partnership is a collective thing,” he concluded.
In connection with this occurrence, Veracel’s Sustainability manager warned that the company would not be granted permission by ICMBIO. The work will be carried out by Porto Seguro City Hall, with the company’s support. “The City Hall has been authorized, and they’ll be responsible for the undertaking. Veracel will make machines available,” explained Renato Carneiro.