Proposal 1: Advocate for the Indigenous Peoples in Brazil - OPAN

Friedenspreis 2021: Auswahlliste Spenderpreis

OPAN was founded in 1969. It is the most long-standing Brazilian NGO working with the indigenous people in the Amazon River region and campaigns for their rights and wellbeing. The principle that guides all actions is shaped by an appreciation of their indigenous culture, ancient knowledge and way of life. The voice of the indigenous people is at the heart of every suggestion pertaining to laws and projects.

Hydropower provides 63,8 percent of Brazil‘s electrical energy. What may at first sound progressive proves to be disastrous on closer inspection: The damming of rivers necessary for the production of hydropower disturbs the balance within the ecosystem, fish migration is prevented, water quality reduced and unique biospheres destroyed. The alarming result is the forced displacement of approximately 40 to 80 million people.

OPAN stands for Operação Amazônia Nativa. The organisation supports indigenous peoples in defending their land rights by staking out areas of land. In this way, millions of hectares of land have already been claimed for indigenous ethnic groups and habitats regained.

OPAN supports the indigenous people of Brazil in their wish for self-determination. First assemblies and opportunities for dialogue and exchange were organised. An indigenous policy aligned with the interests, needs and specific socio-cultural characteristics of the different ethnic groups was drawn up and put into practice. The organisation also helps to restore the self-confidence of the indigenous peoples of Brazil by means of a newly-developed method of working. Even during his campaign for presidency, President Bolsonaro demonstrated a derogatory attitude towards the indigenous ethnic groups. It is very difficult to enforce political co-determination under his current presidency.

The work carried out within the health programme focuses in particular on controlling epidemics. This endeavour has gained special importance during the COVID-19 pandemic. People are being medically trained and vaccination is moving forward. The appreciation of the traditional knowledge of healing together with tested healing practices play a significant role in this process.

Through its engagement in campaigning for the rights of indigenous peoples, OPAN has earned itself an excellent reputation in Brazil and throughout the whole of Latin America.

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