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GERT-PETER BRUCH: "Valdelice Veron carries the the Guarani-Kaiowá people’s cry"


Valdelice Veron and Gert-Peter Bruch in Brasilia, in April 2015 / Planète Amazone

Source :
The “Summit of Conscience” will take place on Monday at the Elysée and on Tuesday at the Economic and Social Council in Paris as an event organized by Nicolas Hulot among others, and hosting numerous personalities such as Arnold Schwarzenneger, Pierre Rabhi, Prince Albert II of Monaco, or even Marina Silva, to issue a “call for conscience” to the negotiators of the Paris Agreement on Climate, COP21.

Among the participants, Valdelice Veron, spokeswoman of the Guarani-Kaiowá people from Mato Grosso do Sul in Brazil, was invited thanks to the help of Gert-Peter Bruch, president of the NGO Planète Amazone. He explained his choice to Valdelice Veron will be at the Summit of Conscience, but also at the National Assembly on Wednesday. What will this event be about?
Gert-Peter Bruch: It is a debate-meeting at the National Assembly in Paris, following the invitation of a member of Parliament, Jean-Louis Roumégas (Hérault, Verts), whom we have known for a while now. He has been with us for our commitments against deforestation, great dams in the Amazon, and to support indigenous peoples, mostly in Brazil, which shows that a small portion of the French political class rallies for these issues.

Tell us about Valdelice Veron’s battle, is this her first time in France?
Yes, it is her first time ever in France and Europe. She had never left the South American continent before. It is therefore a landmark in this woman’s life, which is terrible, and punctuated with massacres. As she said herself: “Ever since I was little, I have lived in the midst of violence, attack, terror and violent deaths aimed at my people”. Valdelice Veron is a young indigenous leader of the new team of great activists for this cause which, in Brazil, is rather historical and started at the end of the 1970s with chiefs like Chief Raoni. Among other things, she tells the story of her father (Marcos Veron), who was murdered and fought on various occasions along with veterans such as Raoni. She was often seen at the last big indigenous rallies regarding PEC 215 (regarding the demarcation of indigenous land) in Brasilia. Immediately, her speech was so crushing and moving that it almost seemed surreal. There is a strength, a rage, a will to survive and a pain emerging from this woman that make her so exceptional. She carries the cry of an entire people. I ran into her on various occasions in Brasilia, and after filming her story, I promised myself I would broadcast it. Among other things, we showed it in 2013 in front of the Brazilian Embassy in France on the International Human Rights Day, and I am in the process of making a 90-minute documentary, which she will be an important part of. It is also because I showed this testimony to Nicolas Hulot, and because it moved him, that he decided to invite her to the Summit of Conscience. 

What is the current situation for the Guarani-Kaiowá?
The situation is currently very critical. They were attacked at the end of last month by armed men: a child died, a village was burnt-down, killing animals, and two other children were kidnapped and released two days later in the middle of the forest. This sort of thing happens all the time, with death threats followed by murders.
This people was kept away from their land for the past ten years, a situation which worsened with the production of ethanol in Mato Grosso do Sul. This time, some Indians decided that whatever the cost, they would go back to their traditional land since they cannot live any other way, otherwise they would die. Now, they would rather die for their land.

How do the Brazilian authorities respond to these exactions?
They do nothing, and we could most definitely accuse them of failure to provide assistance. We could say that Dilma Rousseff has blood on her hands because a big part of the Guarani-Kaiowá indigenous territories were marked down, but the last missing step is the Brazilian president’s signature. All of this work has been done for several years, but she refuses to sign because of the economic interests, with very powerful lobbies in the Brazilian Parliament, who make or break presidents. No wonder Katia Abreu (at the head of an agricultural empire, pro-GMO and called “Miss Deforestation” by Brazilian environmentalists) was appointed as Minister for Agriculture.

We often see indigenous personalities, including Chief Raoni, invited by French politicians from all political hues, but isn’t it purely symbolic and mainly aimed at having a clear conscience without acting on it later on?
It is quite complicated because there are a lot of economic agreements between France and Brazil, and we cannot cut ties with them today. It is a real problem, which is why cases like that of the Guarani-Kaiowá cannot be internationally exposed, as they should. With this undignified, unspeakable and inhumane case, we are in the field of crime against humanity. Economic interests cannot excuse everything. But the fact that Valdelice Veron is invited by some of the highest French authorities is an important sign of support. They know that this is a critical situation, and I believe it is often more than just advertisement. There are some borders they cannot cross to avoid risking a diplomatic incident, but it is still an important step, a bigger commitment than what has been done lately. 

Does Planète Amazone help other peoples in Brazil?
The Guarani-Kaiowá are the worst case in Brazil, and there is a margin between them and others. We do not have means like Greenpeace or Amnesty International to help dozens of peoples, but to us, the Guarani-Kaiowá were obvious. We moreover do not understand very well why all NGOs aren’t unanimous when it comes to them, but we hope things will change.

Interview by Corentin CHAUVEL ( - Brazil) Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

© - translated by Camille Guibal / article original

Date de l'article : 22/07/2015

Date : 22/07/2015