FUNASA denies medical care in Mato Grosso do Sul: absurdities from an ominous indigenist policy

The president of the National Foundation of Health (Funasa), Danilo Forte, in a statement in relation to the appeals of the Guarani-Kaiowá that they be assured health assistance, declared: “We are only able to make investments in villages that are legalized” and emphasized that the Funasa is not able to care for indigenous peoples in the areas “in litigation”. He was referring to the Guarani-Kaiowá of the community of Kurusú Ambá, which realized a retaking on November 25 and are camped on a farm in the municipality of Coronel Sapucaia, Mato Grosso do Sul.


at the mercy of thugs

On November 15 the indigenous people resorted to the Federal Prosecutor (Ministério Público Federal) of Ponta Porã, asking that urgent provisions be undertaken so that the community receives protection, food and health assistance. They protested the lack of medications to counter the outbreak of diarrhea suffered by the majority of children and other illnesses that are impacting the families. Using the local press to provide clarifications, the state coordinator of Funasa in Mato Grosso do Sul, Flavio Brito, declared that no medicine would be sent to the Guarani Kaiowá because the place in which they were camped was a site of conflicts. In other words, the representative of Funasa recognized that the Guarani Kaiowá suffer threats as a function of the retaking and are at the mercy of hired thugs of armed farm owners. This deals with, therefore, a situation in which the government is omissive and negligent in relation to the indigenous people.


Undeniable links

As for the argument utilized by Danilo Forte that Funasa is not able to attend indigenous persons in areas in litigation, it should be remembered that in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, practically all indigenous lands are in this situation. Also important to emphasize is that the areas reclaimed by the Guarani Kaiowá are those with which they possess undeniable traditional links. Otherwise, the titleholders to the farms would be the party of primary and greatest interest in allowing the anthropological studies to be carried out, and with utmost urgency. It is known, however, that the conflicts are far from being solved, since they adopt different strategies to impede the Technical Groups from carrying out their work, and this adds to the lack of interest of the Federal Government in assuring the realization of these administrative proceedings, which are its responsibility.


Given this positioning of the Funasa, we are obliged to then understand that the Federal Government intends to deny health assistance to all of the indigenous communities of the state, which are already victims of omission, of violence and of neglect.


Health: a Fundamental Right

It is necessary to consider that the constitutional principle of respect to the dignity of the human person is above any “legalization” and that one of the fundamental objectives of the Republic is that of “to promote the good of all, without the prejudice to origin, race, sex, color, age and any other forms of discrimination”.  Health, in turn, is considered a fundamental right of all, therefore, extending to those indigenous persons camped in areas in litigation, in urban centers, etc.


This is not the first time that the president of Funasa deals with contempt for the indigenous communities. On May 6, after being made aware of the death of 68 indigenous persons, cases denounced by CIMI in the Report on Violence Against the Indigenous Peoples, Mr. Danilo Forte stated: “It is a good number”.


Consequences of governmental omission: unnecessary deaths

On December 18 a child of two years died due to lack of assistance in the community of Kurú Ambá. For fifteen days the child had presented with diarrhea and vomiting, without receiving care from Funasa, in spite of insistent requests made by the community. According to the report by the parents of the little girl, she developed an acute case of diarrhea and vomiting and the lack of medications led to complete dehydration.


Her death occurred 48 hours after the murder of Osimir Fernandes, a youth of 15 years who participated in the retaking of the tradition land. The body of the youth was found in the indigenous school of Taquapiry, eight kilometers from the encampment, with indications of beating and torture.


In this year alone at least 30 indigenous Guarani Kaiowá were murdered in Mato Grosso do Sul and several of their encampments attacked and burned by armed militias. This people have been victim of every type of persecution, discrimination and violence. In the mean time, they hear absurd declarations as those proffered by the president of Funasa, upon whom assisting of the indigenous communities is incumbent, independently of where they are located. It is the responsibility of the representative of this agency to adequately inform regarding fundamental rights, recognized by the Constitution of the country in which he, incredibly, exercises a public function.


Shifting responsabilities

By making possible this type of discourse, the public powers collaborate in the criminalization of the indigenous peoples, also smoothing the way for the various forms of violence practiced against them.

The declarations by Danilo Forte also attempt to exempt Funasa from their responsibilities and, at the same time, they constitute a subliminal threat to the indigenous peoples who mobilize in the struggle for their rights. (If you do retake your traditional land, we will withhold medical care.)

Finally, such arguments make the indigenous peoples responsible for the situations of conflict and violence experienced, removing the focus from those who practice these crimes and exempting the Public Power, which should protect and make to respect the life of these peoples.


The treatment given the Guarani Kaiowá, who dream of living in their lands and who are struggling for this, clearly shows the face of genocide of the present indigenist policy. Danilo Forte, with his statements, becomes a species of spokesperson of this policy ever more out in the open and irrefutably set on course in Mato Grosso do Sul.


Porto Alegre (RS), 19 December of 2009

Roberto Antonio Liebgott

Vice President of Cimi

Fonte: Indigenist Missionary Council
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