Bruno Pacheco – Cenarium Magazine
MANAUS – The first indigenous woman elected federal lawmaker in 190 years of parliament in Brazil, Joênia Wapichana (Rede), completes this Thursday, 28, the total of 1,000 days in office. The indigenous woman was elected in 2018 with 8,491 votes, in Roraima, and today occupies one of the state’s eight seats in the House of Representatives. To celebrate the achievement, the parliamentarian held this afternoon the “1,000 Days of Indigenous Mandate” live broadcast on social networks.
The online event took place from 4pm to 6pm, Brasília time, and was attended by indigenous leaders, representatives of indigenous organizations, indigenists, social movements and politicians, as well as the support of Rede Sustentabilidade, Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (Apib), Mídia Índia, Coordenação das Organizações Indígenas da Amazônia Brasileira (Coiab), Conselho Indígena de Roraima (CIR) and other entities.
“It is a very important day for our lives, for mine particularly. Being the only indigenous representative never left me with the feeling that I would be alone, but with the indigenous people, be it with my people of Roraima or with the people of Brasilia. I deeply thank all those who are part of this indigenous mandate, which today completes a thousand days”, said Joênia Wapichana.
The parliamentarian pointed out that the purpose of her candidacy is to give voice to the traditional peoples in the National Congress, in defense of indigenous interests and rights. “It’s a mandate that came to puncture this ‘bubble’ that didn’t let us enter a representation that is so important for everyone in Brazil, a political representation. I have always thought that the true meaning of politics is to build proposals to improve people’s living conditions. It is in this sense that we work in favor of the indigenous collective rights”, reinforced the parliamentarian.
The former Minister of the Environment and candidate in the last three presidential contests, the environmentalist Marina Silva (Rede), also spoke in the broadcast and praised the work of the lawmaker, besides visualizing Joência Wapichana as the first indigenous senator in the history of the country, in case the congresswoman from Roraima runs for the Senate seat and be elected.
“I am very happy for these thousand days in office, you have done an incredible job. These thousand days speak volumes for these 500 years and for these 500 years. Your work in the National Congress, as I usually say, is a seal of quality in defense of democracy, in defense of the indigenous peoples, of Social Justice, of sustainable development. The resistance and articulation capacity that you have demonstrated is a great contribution to improve the quality of Brazilian politics and public institutions. Each time you occupy that tribune, we are all represented there”, declared Marina Silva.
Born in the Truaru da Cabeceira indigenous community, in the Murupu region of Boa Vista, Joênia Wapichana, 47, belongs to the Wapichana indigenous people, the second largest in the state of Roraima. She is also the first indigenous woman to graduate in law in Brazil, in 1997, from the Federal University of Roraima (UFRR). In 2008, she was also the first indigenous woman lawyer in history to speak in the plenary of the Federal Supreme Court (STF). The speech took place during the homologation that defined the continuous limits of the Raposa Serra do Sol Reserve.
Besides being a lawyer and federal lawmaker, Joência Wapichana holds a master’s degree from the University of Arizona, in the United States. With her work focused on the defense of indigenous peoples’ rights, the environment, and sustainability, she has conquered international ground. Between 2001 and 2006, Joênia participated in discussions about the Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations (UN), from where she received, in 2018, the Human Rights Award, one of the most important in the world.
In the National Congress, the federal deputy has been a protagonist in raising agendas that deal with indigenous rights throughout the country, addressing issues such as the importance of prior consultation with indigenous peoples and traditional communities, the confrontation of Covid-19, in addition to going against bills and proposed amendments to the constitution of the Bolsonaro government, such as the Administrative Reform PEC, nicknamed “PEC da Rachadinha”, and the Temporal Landmark Thesis.