A Deadly Attack on Indians Shows Brazil’s Inability or Unwillingness to Protect Them

Guarani Indians from Brazil Brazil seems incapable of protecting the life of its Indians. A deadly attack on an indigenous community in southern Brazil highlights the Brazilian authorities’ failure to offer protection to indigenous peoples amid ongoing land conflicts, Amnesty International said in an official release last Friday.

Some 40 gunmen arrived at a Guarani-Kaiowá indigenous encampment in southern Mato Grosso do Sul state, near the border with Paraguay, early on 18 November and shot their chief Nísio Gomes, 59, before dragging him away. Gomes’ body and three indigenous children from his family abducted during the attack have not been seen since.

This is the latest in a series of attacks in recent years against Guarani-Kaiowá indigenous communities in the state who live in precarious conditions as they await government action on an effort to demarcate their ancestral territory.

“The Brazilian authorities’ failure to resolve outstanding land claims is putting indigenous communities like the Guarani-Kaiowá at extreme risk of violence and social deprivation,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Amnesty International’s Deputy Americas Program Director.

“Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident – for years, gunmen in the Midwest of Brazil have launched violent attacks with impunity against indigenous communities who attempt to occupy their ancestral lands”

Landowners and ranchers in Mato Grosso do Sul frequently use hired gunmen and private security companies to intimidate indigenous communities fighting for their constitutional rights to their ancestral lands. In recent weeks, gunmen repeatedly threatened the Guarani encampment’s residents and two days before the attack they reportedly threatened to take Nísio Gomes’ life.

According to eyewitnesses, on 18 November the gunmen seized Gomes at the encampment and shot him repeatedly before dragging his body along the ground and dumping it in one of their trucks. Some of the men beat Gomes’ grandson when he tried to intervene, and three other children were abducted from the encampment – a 12-year-old boy and two girls, aged five and 12.

Federal police and prosecutors, as well as the national indigenous agency FUNAI, are investigating the attack.

Some 60,000 Guarani-Kaiowá indigenous people across Brazil’s southern Mato Grosso do Sul state live in poverty in densely populated reserves as they await the demarcation of ancestral indigenous territory, mandated in the 1988 Constitution.

Frustrated by the slow progress of land demarcation, many Guarani-Kaiowá have begun reoccupying their ancestral lands in recent decades, leading to numerous forcible evictions and a rise in threats and attacks against them.
 
“The federal authorities must ensure the safety of the Guaiviry community and urgently address their land claims,” said Guadalupe Marengo. “In the meantime, we urge the authorities to do all they can to find Nísio Gomes’ body as well as the three abducted children, and bring their attackers to justice”.

However, the Missionary Indigenous Council, Cimi, linked to the Catholic Church, remains skeptical about any federal or state solution.

“We doubt the government has sufficient political will to act because Mato Grosso do Sul is under the control of the powerful agribusiness”, said Saulo Feitosa, Cimi’s deputy chairman.

The land grab conflict dates back to 1960 and 1970 when the region was colonized. As the big landholdings advanced the indigenous were forced to leave and in the last eight years, 200 members have been killed by gangs presumably working on contract.

Mercopress

Tags:

Ads

You May Also Like

Pomp, Circumstance and Lots of Deals for Brazil’s Lula in London

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva received a lavish welcome from Queen Elizabeth ...

Brazil Sends 18 Tons of Food and Medicine to Asia

Brazil’s Red Cross is receiving donations to help the victims of the tidal wave ...

Better than 2008: Brazil Accumulates US$ 23 Billion Trade Surplus in 2009

Exports from Brazil last week generated US$ 3.212 billion, and imports, US$ 3.216 billion, ...

Cachaça Gets Own Show in Brazil

Fifty brands of cachaça (Brazilian sugar cane liquor), produced in ten Brazilian states, will ...

Senator Gives First Salvo on Brazil’s Disarmament Campaign

Today the president of the Brazilian Senate, Renan Calheiros from the Alagoas PMDB party, ...

It Happened in Brazil: A Good Deed Is a Reward in Itself

March 9, 1999 is a day which I will remember forever. That day I ...

Brazil Submarino Has 65% Growth

Brazilian Internet company Submarino S.A. announced that gross sales for the first quarter totaled ...

No Business Like News Business

The Brazilian press was among the victims of a serial killer on the loose. ...

EU Worries About Brazil Agricultural Competitiveness Before Signing Trade Agreement

Brazil’s agricultural competitiveness is a concern to countries and trade blocs negotiating agreements with ...