Brazil's Indian affairs agency fired a world-renowned expert on indigenous tribes days after he criticized its president for suggesting there should be limits on land claims made by the Indians.
BRASILIA, Brazil Brazil's Indian affairs agency fired a world-renowned expert on indigenous tribes days after he criticized its president for suggesting there should be limits on land claims made by the Indians.
A National Indians Foundation spokesman said Tuesday that Sidney Possuelo, head of the agency's isolated tribes department and a former president, had been relieved of his duties due to "incompatibility" with colleagues.
But Possuelo told environment protection group Friends of the Earth on its Web site Amazonia.org.br he considered the motive given by FUNAI a lie.
"It would have been more fair of them to recognize that I had been fired because of insubordination," he said, adding that he was deeply concerned with FUNAI president's statements which he considered a reflection of government policies.
Earlier this month, the agency's President Mercio Pereira told Reuters that Indian reservations already accounted for over 12 percent of Brazil's territory and the Supreme Court may have to set a limit on new land claims.
Possuelo then criticized Pereira in an interview with O Estado de S. Paulo daily.
"It's the same thing as a justice minister saying that he does not defend justice or an environment minister calling for the felling of trees," said Possuelo, who in 2004 received a medal from Britain's Royal Geographical Society for his explorations in the Amazon and defense of Indian rights.
He also said Pereira made the work of field experts, known as sertanistas, difficult.
The FUNAI statement made no mention of Possuelo's direct criticism of his boss. "Although FUNAI acknowledges Possuelo's merits ... his incompatibility with other FUNAI sertanistas working with isolated tribes has been growing recently," it said.
Pereira's remarks on a possible limit on Indian land claims also provoked criticism from nongovernmental organizations such as the Indigenous Missionary Council.
The group, along with Amnesty International, had already blamed the government for failing to quickly demarcate Indian lands which in its view boosted the number of Indian deaths.
Pereira rejected their accusations, saying the government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had the most advanced pro-Indian policies in the world. It had given more than 50 territories to Indians over the past three years.