Created in 1937 by Getúlio Vargas, the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute (Iphan) has since played a central role in the preservation and recognition of the country’s cultural assets. Or rather, he exercised. Condemned to be inoperative in the Jair Bolsonaro government, the agency is experiencing its greatest paralysis in 65 years.
From 1955 to 2018, the Iphan advisory board, the highest body for the registration and registration of material and immaterial goods, met more than three times a year, on average. Since 2019, however, only two meetings have been held, with an interval of one year and eight months between them.
Such a hiatus had not been recorded even in the government of Fernando Collor, who came to extinguish the council, paralyzing its activities for a year and four months, or even during the years of the military regime.
Comprised of members of the government, private entities and civil society, the council, in addition to having the final say in all registration and registration processes, also conducts essential field studies. Without the meetings, the initiatives are at a standstill, leaving cultural goods without proper protection.
To make matters worse, not even holding the meetings guarantees any progress in the work. In the last one, in March, in the midst of tributes to Women’s Day and picturesque tours of the term culture, it was not decided on the fate of a single good.
In addition to the inactivity of its board, Iphan also lives with the division of positions in the superintendencies and management posts.
The agency’s president, Larissa Rodrigues, had her appointment suspended by the courts last year, due to the lack of training or professional experience compatible with the position. The directorate of intangible heritage is occupied by an evangelical pastor.
Far from representing an isolated episode, the decline of Iphan is part of a general framework of government attacks on the cultural sector, which have also been undermining institutions as disparate as the National Film Agency, the Cinematheque, the Palmares and Ruy Barbosa foundations and Funarte —To say nothing about the Special Secretariat for Culture itself.
The ideological equipment that Bolsonarism seeks to promote in the sector is already deplorable. Even more serious is keeping an irreplaceable public service paralyzed.