More than 50 Brazilian Indians Killed in Land Disputes. Bishops Blame Government.

Brazilian IndiansAt least 53 Brazilian Indians were murdered in 2013 as a direct or indirect result of conflict over dispute of land. The number is part of the just-released report on violence against indigenous peoples in Brazil by the  Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI).

Thirty three of all the cases around the country (66%) were recorded in the Midwestern state of Mato Grosso do Sul. This is not the first time that the state tops the list of the indigenous organization, which is linked to the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB).

The total number of Indians killed in 2013 is smaller than the 60 cases identified by the CIMI in 2012. However, as in previous years, the organization notes that the numbers may be underestimated, because they are collected, from various sources, such as reports and complaints of the Indians themselves, indigenous organizations, missionaries, newspapers reports and police bulletins.

In the section violence against the person, the CIMI identified 13 malicious murders (unintentional) in 2013, against 12 cases in 2012; 328 assassination attempts against 1,024 the previous year, in addition to 14 cases in which Indians were threatened with death.

The high number of death attempts has to do with the fact that, in some instances, the threat was directed at an entire community. The 2013 report also registers ten cases of sexual violence committed against indigenous peoples.

The report also notes that 8,014 of the 896,917 Brazilian Indians  8,014 (based on the 2010 census by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) suffered some type of violence resulting from the omission of the authorities.

The cases involve lack of school assistance and health, and lack of public policies that would prevent the spread of alcohol and other drugs within the community and even suicide attempts. The result in this regard is inferior to 106,801 cases recorded in 2012.

According to the report, the Indians continue to be the target of racism and prejudice. In addition, indigenous children are still dying from diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhea and gastroenteritis, respiratory insufficiency and infections caused by bacteria, among other illnesses.

The CIMI observes that is not possible to reach the actual numbers of cases. While the report accounts for 26 cases of infant mortality, the text of presentation of the document cites data from the Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (Sesai) and the Ministry of Health, which indicate that 693 children who were younger than 5 died between January and November 2013.

The chairman of Brazil’s Indigenous Missionary Council (Cimi), Bishop Erwin Kräutler, is charging Brazilian governmental agencies with neglect towards the indigenous policy and the life of indigenous peoples.

He believes that the interruption by the government of the procedures for the demarcation of the Indians’ lands aggravate conflicts in many states and intensifies violence and death threats against this population throughout the country.

A report on violence against indigenous people published this week in Brazilian capital Brasília indicated that only one indigenous land was officially recognized by President Dilma Rousseff in 2013: the Kaybi Indigenous Land, in the state of Pará.

The average number of lands recognized as indigenous during Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s administration (1995 to 2002) was 18 per year, whereas Lula’s counterpart was 10 (2013 to 2010).

Kräutler argues that the federal government should be held accountable for the plight of the indigenous peoples, pointing out that, according to the Federal Constitution, the Brazilian State should have identified and demarcated their areas, and evicted non-Indians from all traditionally indigenous territories by 1993.

According to Cimi, out of the 1,047 areas claimed by the Indians, only 38 percent have been registered as legal. Nearly 30 percent of them are in the process of official registration, and, in 32 percent of the cases, the legal process of demarcation has not even been initiated yet.

As regards the lands whose registration is complete, 98.75 percent of them are located in the Amazônia Legal region. In the meantime, 554,081 of the country’s 896,917 Indians live in areas of the country where registered indigenous lands occupy a mere 1.25 percent of its extension.

Cimi states that at least 30 demarcation processes of areas already identified by the National Indian Foundation (Funai) have no administrative or legal issue unsettled that could hinder the recognition of the reserve. Nonetheless, processes remain unfinished.

ABr

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