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Paris - Chief Raoni achieves his last trip to France

Paris - Chief Raoni achieves his last trip to France

Chief Raoni at the Élysée Palace on 29th November 2012 | Photo Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters

Source : Paris match (
"I am tired. I am feeling tired" It was an exhausted warrior who faced journalists in Paris on the 13th December [2012]. In the Paris Foreign Press Center, Raoni Metuktire who been fighting for 40 years to save the Amazon and its indigenous populations, has confirmed that this would be his last tour.

The famous cacique (the brazilian word for "indian chief") of the Kayapo tribe, now aged what is thought to be between 80 and 82 years old, was received by several European leaders, including the French president François Hollande on 29th November [2012], and yesterday by the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso. Accompanied by his nephew Megaron Txucarramae who served as a translator between Portuguee and Kayapo, the Tribal Chief calmly declared himself happy with his reception. "I've been listened to" he declares. "I believe they heard the message I came to deliver."

The message he has been repeating over and over again for years, and which made him the most famous Indigenous man in the world, is as follows: He is "worried about the forest and the river" Xingú, located in the state of Pará in Brazil, because of "the deforestation and the construction of the Belo Monte [hydroelectric] dam", a project initiated in 2005 which started officially last January. "My people as well as the other indigenous peoples are worried. (…) We've got to stop all this. It is important for our children and the generations to come." His dream? "To see Indigenous and White people respect each other and live together in peace". He then concludes with the now traditional: "je vous embrasse tous. ("a big hug for all of you")" Asked about the details of his meeting with François Hollande, Chief Raoni explains he asked him to convey his message to the President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff, who was also received by the French Head of State on Tuesday, one day before their joint opening of the Forum du progrès social on Wednesday. "He promised me he would do it", he said happily, adding that he "would like to meet her and talk to her when she returns to Brazil".


(Raoni Metuktire, Megaron Txucarramae, Bemoro Metuktire and Gert-Peter Bruch at the Elysee Palace. Photo Reuters)«Nous sommes tous responsables!»


"We are all responsible!"
Gert-Peter Bruch, president of the association Planète Amazone, who initiated the European campaign "Urgence Amazonie" ("Amazon Emergency")*, confirms that one of the main objectives is currently to "restart the dialogue with the Brazilian government who until now has closed the door to indigenous populations". "This campaign of a political nature has allowed the Kayapos to be heard on the international scene. What is not normal is that Indigenous people are heard more outside their own country", adds the militant. "There is still a lot to do.", he says with a sigh, regretting the lack of concrete results in spite of the "25 years spent travelling in Europe and the world by Chief Raoni". Gert-Peter Bruch takes the opportunity to add that "we all contribute to the deforestation and the violation of indigenous rights" because of our bad consuming habits, such as the purchase of wood illegally imported into Europe. This is why it is paramount to "make European leaders aware of their responsibilities so that we are no longer involved" in this vicious circle and they stop financing projects contributing to deforestation. This is all the more important because "we cannot rely on other continents having an ecological consciousness", deplores the young man. "The United States never ratify the treaties. Africa has other priorities and let's not mention Asia".

"We are all responsible" adds Chief Megaron Txucarramae. "We've come a long way to bring you this message, even though deforestation is happening very far from you." He then shows us a video on the events taking place between the indigenous Munduruku, in the North of Brazil and the local goverment on the 7th November [2012]. As the environmental police was tasked to remove the "fazendeiros" -gold diggers-, from indigenous land, a conflict erupted between the 2 groups and the Federal police commited acts of violence, "including on women and children", he declares. "A warrior was killed and two others were seriously wounded", he says, insisting on the fact that this "sad situation" is not unique and keeps being encountered by other indigenous populations such as the Guarani Kaiowá, characterised by an "extremely high suicide rate". Chief Megaron, chosen by his uncle to be his successor along with 2 others of his nephews, shows us on the map the area he would like to be given to them: an area of 180,000 square kilometers, currently hosting a population of 7,000 inhabitants across 35 villages. As deforestation is gaining ground, Gert-Peter Bruch is nevertheless happy to announce some good news he received this very morning: the construction of a village in the threatened Kapot-Ninhore area. This will establish a permanent presence for watching and defending the area will be fully financed thanks to the generosity of French benefactors. The next step will be to go to the UN, in front of whom they will defend their rights to live in their own way, and according to their own customs (this appointment is yet to be made.)


* supported by the American charity Amazon Watch, the ­Fondation ­Nicolas Hulot and the Société des Peuples Menacés (Switzerland).



© - Marie Desnos / translated from french to english by Natalija Abrams : lint to original article 


Date : 13/12/2012