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Diversity In AM, counselors allege institutional racism and refuse inauguration in Commission of Racial Equality

The councilors list a series of mistakes, failures, and attitudes that are exclusive and unrepresentative of the movement (Reproduction/Carlos Alessandro)

Priscilla Peixoto – Cenarium Magazine

MANAUS – Part of the Amazonas State Councilors of Racial Equality refused to take office, during a ceremony held on Tuesday, 9, at the State Legislative Assembly (Aleam). The ten counselors, divided between substitutes and full members, linked to the Black Movement, claim they were not invited to the event, and denounce other episodes of institutional racism within the State Department of Justice, Human Rights and Citizenship (Sejusc).

During the occasion, mediated by the secretary of Sejusc, Mirtes Sales, the councilors enumerate a series of mistakes, failures and exclusionary attitudes, besides the lack of black representation in the movement. “They already had a ready and absurd agenda with hidden interests, because they want to give possession in Brasilia to a representative of the ‘mestiços’, a category that only exists here in the Amazon. This is because they have no representation that classifies them, it is evident that it is a political issue”, comments the member of the Black Movement and representative of the Racial Equality Commission of the OAB Amazonas, Luciana Santos.

Vacancies

In all, there are 24 vacancies for public administration bodies and civil society, making up the Council of Racial Equality, created by state law 4.367. But according to the movement, the lack of transparency in the actions involving the electoral process of the council, in addition to the non-communication of the ceremony of possession for part of the interested parties, culminated in what members classify as “irregular possession” in Aleam.

“It is strange, to say the least, that all the councilors linked to the Black Movement are not invited to their own inauguration, and all from the same segment. That is, suddenly you make a solemnity having as focus the council of racial equality and you don’t call these people, sorry but this is not normal”, emphasizes the lawyer.

Institutional racism

According to Luciana, the circumstances that occurred since the beginning of the elections and post-elections are demonstrations of institutional racism, being this one of the points filed in the complaint to the Public Ministry of the State of Amazonas (MPE). The members claim that they were victims of racism in a WhatsApp group created by Sejusc itself.

Front of the Public Ministry of the State of Amazonas (Reproduction/Carlos Alessandro)

“If we stop and think about the actions taken, all this time there has been racism. The secretary can even say that she is not racist and that she doesn’t want to silence the black movement, but there is an implicit racism. And institutional racism doesn’t need to be blatant, it manifests itself in nuances, in the strategies and options you take to prevent blacks from occupying certain spaces”, explains the Commission’s representative.

Luciana points out that the black movement fought for the creation of the council, besides the interest of the members for the council to be in force in a legitimate way, within all legality. “No one came to make a fuss. The central point of all this is to understand that the correct rite was not followed. How can a parity council be sworn in without this actually happening?”, asks the lawyer.

Denunciation

Among the issues formalized as irregularities are the successive barriers imposed by Sejusc in the correct course of the election process, in addition to attacks by the ‘Pardo-Mestiço’ Movement against members of the Black Movement, especially those linked to the left-wing party. The complaint also covers a post-election process considered as “not transparent”, without information to councilors about the progress of appointments to the Civil House of the State and the Civil House of Aleam.

Alberto Jorge, a member of the Toy Badé Cultural Development Association, elected for the civil society position, classified the ceremony as an unfortunate moment for Racial Equality in Amazonas. “The councilors refuse to be sworn in, because of the mistakes and absurdities of the investiture being given in a partial way by Sejusc. The decision was last minute, the civil society, the councilors elected by the governor and those representing governmental organizations were not contacted in an institutional and personal way”, adds Alberto.

Interests

“And they still want to criminally elect and appoint to the board a person from their political group, in contravention of the legislation. We denounce this action by Mirtes Sales, who is taking Sejusc as if it were the backyard of her own house”, laments Alberto Jorge.

For Toy Badé, the intention of political favoritism is clear. “It’s been ten years of struggle here and in Congress, so that now they want to discredit us in favor of other ethno-racial groups and political issues, just us who are truly fighting for this council and equality”, Alberto Jorge asks.

The movement asks for the suspension of the inauguration and that a new date be set for the program, in addition to requesting an increase in the term of the members, from one to four years. It also requested criminal liability for prevarication of the members who may have been aware of the alleged irregularities.

The Amazonas State Council for Racial Equality (Cepir) works with 12 Civil Society Organizations (Denise Pêgo/Sejusc)

“There was no mistake”

Sought by CENARIUM, Secretary Mirtes Salles informed there was no kind of attack and no irregularity in the inauguration. “They arrived there trying to disturb the inauguration of the new councilors. The others present began to speak out, saying that they wanted the inauguration. The act was just a formality, so that the council could hold its first meeting and the election. We have no management over these internal fights that seem to come from some time ago”, says the secretary.

According to Mirtes, the counselors appointed by each organ and each institution were presented, besides the choice having been legitimized by a law approved by Aleam, which would have been published in the Official Journal of the Legislative House. Questioned about why she believed that the councilors representing the black movement did not want the inauguration of the other colleagues.

“In reality there wasn’t much basis, they wanted to make a fuss. Now I understand why they have been trying for ten years to constitute the council and they don’t succeed, there is always some confusion. If it is a law voted by the Assembly, there is no irregularity. Then they started saying that they would have to receive an invitation 72 hours in advance (…) Everyone was invited, but we can’t force people to go, it’s like a wedding, we invite people, but those who want to go, go. It was not a solemnity”, Mirtes emphasizes.

When rebutting the irregularities alleged by the movement during and after the elections, besides the “non-representativeness” and even a possible act of institutional racism, the secretary denied the existence of any action that refers to the subject.

“A law was made, discussed with them over the years with representation from all institutions. Why didn’t they go to the Assembly to propose the changes in the law during the vote? There is no way that the legislative Assembly could approve an ‘illegal’ law. Strange that they let it vote, publish it, and only at the inauguration, want to make a mess of it. If it was wrong, then they would have had to discuss it with the lawmakers. I hope these fights between them stop, because this weakens the movement in the state”, the secretary laments.