RIO BRANCO, ACRE, BRAZIL--September 10, 2006
In a ceremony at the Governor's palace in downtown Rio Branco last Wednesday, September 5th--the Day of Amazonia--the original Daimista center CICLU-Alto Santo and some of the historical buildings around it were officially declared part of the city's and the state's historical patrimony.
The action, which came as a result of an official request by Peregrina Gomes Serra, the widow of Santo Daime founder Raimundo Irineu Serra and the church's current leader, reaffirmed the commitment of the municipal and state governments to value the region's historical and cultural heritage. The valorization of popular movements and of the knowledge of the "forest peoples" has been a key feature of the Workers' Party administrations at both levels of government.
This partnership between the state and the region's leading religious phenomenon was symbolized in a story told by Antonio Alves, a local journalist, activist, and Alto Santo member, about aid rendered by Irineu Serra and a group of men from Alto Santo to WWII-era governor Jose Guiomard dos Santos. Guiomard dos Santos asked for help cleaning up the banks of the river Acre, clearing brush and removing trash, and Irineu Serra and his men worked a whole day to complete the task, then asked for nothing more than a ride up the hill to the mouth of the highway to Alto Santo. Once again, according to Alves, the state and the church were entering into a healthy relationship of mutual respect.
Signing the official documents and taking their turns at the microphone were Governor Jorge Viana and Rio Branco Mayor Raimundo Angelim. Viana spoke of his family's close ties to Irineu Serra, and of the need for diverse sectors to unite in protection of the Amazon (this is a major theme of the PT's platform this election season, which culminates October 1st in general elections at all levels of government).
Also present at the ceremony were Peregrina Gomes Serra, who had a special place in a chair up front along with several members of historically related churches in the same neighborhood as Alto Santo. These included Jair Facundes, a federal judge in Rio Branco; Cosmo Lima de Souza, a promotor of justice for the state of Acre; and Arthur Leite, municipal secretary of the environment for Rio Branco. In the audience were other important figures in the history of Santo Daime, including Joao Rodrigues Facundes, a contemporary of Irineu Serra and leader of the Centro da Rainha da Floresta; Ladislau, leader of CICLUJUR, also located near Alto Santo; and Francisco Hipolito Araujo, current head of the original Barquinha center in Rio Branco.