The Network of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB) transitioned “from protest to proposal.” COIAB systematically captured decision-making positions in order to participate in the formulation and implementation of public policies in favor of the lives and rights of indigenous peoples. Working strategically with circumstances, and strengthening and training movement members, COIAB has managed to participate in more than 40 governmental and inter-institutional spaces in which governmental policy is discussed and formulated, including on issues of indigenous health and the environment. Although indigenous people are only 2% of the Brazilian population, COIAB has been able to overcome the historical denial of the indigenous voice, and has won an impressive arena of agency in a very short period. Social movements – of all kinds – can learn from this experience in order to take better advantage of opportunities for public participation.
Year of Publication: 2005
Author(s): Paulino Montejo Silvestre