Jair Candor

Amazon hero
 
One of Jair Candor’s main goals working for Brazil’s indigenous peoples, is looking out for Tamanda and Pakyî. These two men live alone in an area where timber companies are eager to make a profit – and use violence and even murder to get their way. But Tamanda and Pakyî have incredible survival skills. Candor: ‘These guys are ninja’s!’
 
Jair Candor, special guest at the Movies that Matter Festival 2018, works for FUNAI, the Brazilian National Indian Foundation. According to FUNAI, there are at least one hundred isolated indigenous groups living in the Brazilian Amazon jungle. ‘My job,’ Candor says, ‘is to go on monitoring expeditions to see where the Indians are, if they are okay, and prevent the invasion of loggers, prospectors and grileiros [land grabbers, ed.].’ 
 
The butterfly people
It was not long ago, Candor explains in the wonderful filmPiripkura, that indigenous people were seen as animals: ‘Anyone could pick up a gun and go into the forest. If you ran into them, you could kill them. It wasn’t an issue. You wouldn’t get arrested.’ In 1989, Candor first came into contact with the Piripkura, ‘the butterfly people’, named after the way they constantly move through the forest. Then, they numbered around twenty, now there’s only three left: Tamanda, Pakyî and Rita. Rita was forced to flee in the late 1980s after logging companies sent mercenaries to kill people living on her land; much of her family was murdered. Rita contacted FUNAI, and so began the beautiful relationship between Jair Candor and the Piripkura. 

Constant danger
Rita escorted Candor on his first expedition looking for the Piripkura, when he found Tamanda and Pakyî. Their habitat was badly ravaged by the timber companies. In 2008 FUNAI managed to sign a temporary order, protecting the Piripkura area from all economic activity. However, this order has to be renewed every two years. So every two years, Jair Candor goes on a trekking expedition into the Amazon jungle to find evidence that Tamanda and Pakyî still live there. Despite his bad knee, Candor walks for days on end with his backpack in the jungle, wading through water and clearing the path with a machete. 
 
Because their land is worth a lot of money, Tamanda and Pakyî are in constant danger. Candor: ‘If they run into a lumberjack or a prospector, surely these wouldn’t pass on the opportunity to kill them.’ Candor himself also faces danger as a result of his work. ‘Yes, there are threats,’ he says, ‘but I don’t care much for them. When someone says: so-and-so says you will not pass this year, I say: get in the queue, and it’s not small. I intend to continue doing my job. I do what I like and I like what I do.’