Leandro Grass assumed the presidency of the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute (Iphan)
Leandro Grass. Photo: Ed Alves/CB/DAPress

Leandro Grass, professor, sociologist and master in sustainable development, cultural manager and activist linked to the Green Party (PV) assumed the presidency of the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute (Iphan) on January 10th. Grass had been part of President Lula's Transition Group, coordinating the Regional Development Technical Group.
Grass's mission is complex: to restore the capacity of the Brazilian State to act in the protection of the national historic heritage, a task that was vilified in every possible way during the government of Jair Bolsonaro during the last four years. Bolsonaro even exonerated in 2020 the then president of IPHAN, Kátia Bogéa, at the request of an allied businessman. Grass granted the following interview to arte!brasileiros:

arte!✱ – Recently, IPHAN exonerated 18 superintendents from almost all states in the country. This mega-exoneration shows that there was a generalized contamination in the historical heritage, doesn't it?

Leandro Grass – We had a group of superintendents who were not at all in tune with the required technical training, with the principles of heritage republicanism, with references that were very disconnected from national policies. To give you an idea, there were people with a monarchist profile, that is, anti-republicans, as well as people who were completely alien to the sector, digital influencers, as well as others linked to local churches. These were there by a political arrangement of these churches. They were disconnected from the technical staff and training related to heritage. This first wave of dismissals was to give a first substantial adjustment, to replace technicians, specialists. Now, there will be a second wave of the management area. We replaced practically all the superintendents, there are only two left.

And which states are these two from?

Alagoas and Paraná.

Another visible aspect of the deterioration of the federal heritage service was the substantial loss of resources. Is it possible to say how big the loss was in the last four years?

In discretionary expenses, the loss was somewhere around R$ 70 to 80 million in the last four years. In the transition of government, the new government recomposed the values ​​that were practiced in 2016.

What will be the investment priorities in your management?

There is a large set of action plans that are being prepared in each state, each region, and these actions defined in their own locations will be the priority for allocating resources.

You said that the heritage recovered the budget it had in 2016. But, since that time, a lot of new things have been incorporated, listed, Iphan has grown a lot.

Yes, there are more than 1,2 listed assets, not including immaterial listings. We are seeking partnerships with the private sector, as well as in municipalities and states, to increase resources and actions. And, of course, also rebuild our budget execution capacity.

There were some cases in which the former government offered listed heritage for sale, as was the case with some state parks such as Jericoacoara, in Ceará.

The management of natural heritage is the responsibility of IMCBio, although some are protected, as is the case of the Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park, in Goiás. As a listed property, we have the responsibility to monitor it. A good part of this heritage is in charge of universities, for example, which define the use plan and the form of management. What we had more acutely was carelessness, stoppage of analysis, abandonment. There were some attempts to dismantle it, but that (the former government) did not come to a conclusion due to the action of the Public Prosecutor's Office.

There was a well-known case of direct interference by the former president, in the case of that businessman from Santa Catarina, the owner of Havan, Luciano Hang, whose plans to build a headquarters were blocked by Iphan, and he managed to get her fired the president of the Institute. How to publicize what happened in these cases, during this period, for the purposes of public knowledge?

Look, we asked for situational reports for all superintendencies. Processes that may have collided with internal regulations, legislation and standards, we will forward to the attorney's office, so that appropriate accountability measures are taken.
In the case of intangible heritage, the previous government even appointed an evangelical pastor in the sector precisely to achieve the concept of intangible heritage.
We sought to remedy this by putting an area technician in place. It's always the best attitude: handing the area back to the specialists.

One of the acts of this server was to try to boycott the collection of art of African origin that was destined for the Museum of the Republic, in Rio. How is your management dealing with this matter?

It is the Our Sacred Collection. In the coming days, we are going to publish an ordinance renaming this collection, which was called Coleção de Magia Negra, officially renaming it Acervo Nosso Sagrado.

When he was nominated for the presidency of IPHAN, there was criticism. Many people said that you were filling a position of political appointment.

It is natural that, after all the traumas the service of historical heritage has gone through, public servants would want an internal framework for the presidency. But I am not alien to the sector, I have information in the area of ​​public policies, I have followed issues related to heritage for a long time. We already fixed that. We appoint a board made up of civil servants, we place career civil servants in superintendencies. The issue has now been 100% resolved. ✱

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