The situation very quickly got out of hand. Some of the indigenous people decided to light a bonfire and then to dance around it to mark their departure. A spark accidentally landed on a tent and started a fire, which was immediately put out by firefighters.
However, the police decided that the fire had been intentionally set and so they reacted in a very aggressive manner, spraying the crowd with tear gas and pepper spay. In the video that I filmed, Marcelo Freixo [Editor’s note: a member of parliament belonging to the Socialism and Liberty party], who saw the incident unfold, stated that the fire was completely accidental.
Now, the Maracana village is empty. The police are guarding it so that nobody can enter the building. Over the past week, protests for indigenous rights have been organized all over the city.
Last Sunday, I attended a public meeting at the local courthouse that brought together indigenous representatives and members of FUNAI [Editor’s note: a government organization focused on indigenous issues] to find a mutually agreeable solution. But the indigenous groups do not want to relinquish their claim on Maracana village, which for them is not a run-down building but fully part of their territory.
Traditional indigenous ceremony at Maracana village. Video uploaded to YouTube.