The Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) is being investigated for abuse of authority and denial of rights since residents of a reserve in Acre brought complaints against employees of the federal agency to light. The abuses were reported during hearings by the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry into Non-Governmental Organizations, the CPI of NGOs, and are under analysis by the Attorney General’s Office (PGR).
ICMBio is a federal agency linked to the Ministry of the Environment, created in the second term of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT), in 2007. The agency’s mission is to manage, protect, monitor and inspect the 335 Federal Conservation Units (UC) existing throughout the country.
But residents of the Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve (Resex), in Acre, complain about the deprivation of rights promoted by ICMBio agents who, according to them, impede the development of the area and, in particular, their guarantee of survival.
There were even reports of home invasions by “heavily armed” government agents. Regarding this complaint, the president of ICMBio, Mauro Oliveira Pires, said that the agency’s agents do not use “heavy weapons” and that any abuses could be resolved via audit and internal internal affairs. The complaints have already been exposed to Pires, but most of the demands have not yet received a response.
A People’s Gazette contacted the ICMBio press office, but did not receive a response until the article was written. The space remains open for demonstrations.
Among other reports is that of residents of a community called “Espalha”, who say they were threatened by ICMBio agents after building bridges to facilitate their movement and guarantee access to school for around 70 children. Claiming that the bridge’s wood was not certified, an ICMBio agent allegedly tore down the bridge and said that he would tear down all bridges that were built.
Speaking during the hearings, the mayor of Epitaciolândia, Sérgio Lopes de Souza (PSDB), also reported that given the high number of school-age children living in the reserve, he proposed building a school in the area, as the existing one no longer counts. with conditions of use. However, for more than a year the mayor’s request has been ignored by ICMBio.
Residents are prevented from raising animals for subsistence
Reserves, such as Resex Chico Mendes, are areas used by traditional populations, whose subsistence is based on extractivism. In addition, families have permission, provided by law, for agricultural production and the raising of small animals. This right, however, has been limited and the population living in Resex Chico Mendes reports that they are prevented from raising cows, for example.
In a report during the NGOs’ CPI investigation, resident of Resex Chico Mendes Rosângela Sibi de Oliveira spoke a little about her reality. “It’s difficult for you to look at your child and have them say: ‘Mom, I would like to go to school, I would like to have a cow to drink milk from’. This is the right that you from the NGOs, ICMBio, Ibama, do not give us, this right for us to become legal, to raise a cow to give milk to our children”, said Rosângela.
The need for residents to raise animals and plant crops within the reserves is due precisely to the difficult access to urban centers. A study published in 2019, by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), states that “the sovereignty and food security of family farmers living in Resex are the first step towards environmental conservation in conservation units in the Amazon”.
Complaints were delivered to the PGR by the CPI of NGOs
Based on complaints from residents, the NGO CPI senators formulated a document that was later delivered to the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) for action. Eleven alleged crimes were listed, from threats to arbitrary violence, including misappropriation, qualified damage and abuse of authority.
“It is an outrageous situation that turns into revolt. We feel the obligation to act against ICMBio so that these abuses and arbitrariness cease. And we will take measures before the CPI ends. We need to fight this cancer that is ICMBio”, said senator Plínio Valério, president of the CPI of NGOs.
Position holders at ICMBio have connections with NGOs
The CPI on NGOs also pointed out that the president of ICMBio has already had connections with NGOs benefiting from federal government resources. Pires was a partner in a company that provided consultancy to ensure that NGOs and companies could have access to government notices. The president of ICMBio argued, however, that such activity was carried out while he was licensed and complying with all requirements set out in law.
The senators also claim that Pires’ nomination for the position was influenced by NGOs. When choosing a name for the presidency of ICMBio, the Minister of the Environment, Marina Silva, would have formed a committee to nominate three names of candidates for the direction of the ICMBio. organ.
In his defense, the president of the environmental body stated that the decision to name him was influenced by his career as a civil servant at ICMBio since 2009. But, for senator Márcio Bittar (União-AC), Pires’ participation as a partner in the company Canumã (when licensed from ICMBio), would indicate a biased choice by the committee formed by Marina Silva.