Elections Brazil, Vanda Ortega the indigenous nurse candidate who fights for the defense of the Amazon rainforest

“Our candidacies must be seen as a breath of life for humanity. Elect representatives of indigenous people who defend the Amazon rainforest putting one’s own life at risk is necessary to guarantee the existence of the planet. Our struggle is not only important for Brazil but for the planet ”. He has no doubts Vanda Ortega of giving the measure of the importance of greater representation for the original peoples in the Brazilian parliament today. Exponent of the Witoto tribeas soon as 450 people throughout the country, Vanda is among the almost 200 indigenous candidates pointing to a chair a Brasilia. Never so many in history.

Nurse, the 35-year-old has gained notoriety in the city of Manaus for its frontline fight against covid-19. “The Amazon has twice been the epicenter of pandemicsa in the country. The effect was catastrophic. Seeing so many people running in desperation in search of oxygen has marked us. This experience was also relevant to understand that to remedy the negligence of the state and the historical discrimination and exclusion of political life, we had to be the ones to participate more actively ”.

In the first half of 2022 the Amazon recorded the largest rate of deforestation of the last 7 years: 3,988 square kilometers. The acceleration is due to the increasingly aggressive activity of mining companies and the action of explorers and traffickers of precious materials and timber, often led by the organized crime. For Vanda Ortega the result of government policies Bolsonaro. “In these three years we have witnessed a state policy aimed on the one hand at weakening the legislation to protect peoples and on the other hand at limiting the action of agencies designed to protect and control indigenous areas”, says the nurse. .

The Indigenous missionary council (Cimi), a body linked to the Brazilian Bishops’ Conferencedocumented a 16 percent increase in the number of invasions of protected indigenous reserves in the year 2021, compared to the previous year. While in 2020 there were 263 cases of invasion in 19 states (out of 27), in 2021 there were 305 cases in 22 states. The study denounces that often, after illegal invasions, the aggressors remain within the protected regions. In the case of the reserve of Yanomamibetween the states of Roraima and Amazonia, the most affected in the country, it is estimated that there are more than 20,000 gold diggers And illegal lumberjacks. The total number of indigenous residents in the area is 28 thousand people. THE garimperos they carried out “systematic” armed attacks against communities. “In recent years we have also recorded the highest ever number of violence, murder and rape in our territories”, confirms Vanda Ortega.

“This violent process joins the economic project that wants to open our territories to the exploration of minerals and of natural wealth of our land. During the electoral period, the most frequent theme in politicians’ rhetoric is that exploration must be encouraged because it can prune wealth in the Amazon, but we know that this is not the case, ”says Ortega. “Throughout history we have witnessed various explorations that have affected the forest: the pau brasil, gold and rubber. In no case has it brought wealth or quality of life to people or territories. On the contrary, they always have meant destruction, violence, murder. This is only enriching businesses, while people who extract gold from the mud in the near-slavery state are exposed to the risk of intoxication and life. The wealth of speak does not exist, it is a deception, an illusory logic ”, she highlights. “The sages and elders of our tribes have always told us what science has begun to talk about most recently, and that is that it is necessary keep the forest alive so that the existence of man on the planet is guaranteed. Survival for indigenous peoples is crucial because it is only our resistance that has ensured the survival of the Amazon so far ”.

Elections Brazil, Vanda Ortega the indigenous nurse candidate who fights for the defense of the Amazon rainforest – Il Fatto Quotidiano