A Guarani Indian was shot dead early on Sunday morning, June 26, by heavily armed gunmen on the border of Brazil and Paraguay, according to Survival International. Four other Guarani, including a pregnant woman, were wounded and hospitalized.
The Indians were attacked only hours after they had moved back on to their land, from which they were evicted 30 years ago by a cattle rancher.
Two Indians were kidnapped by the gunmen but released later. One of the Indians’ trucks was set on fire and destroyed.
The murdered man, Dorival Benites, age 26, was part of a group of Guarani Indians who have been trying to recover their land for years.
The community, known as Sombrerito, was expelled in 1975 and dispersed into several large Guarani ‘reservations’ where suicides, starvation and violence are rife.
For years they have pressed for their land to be returned to them. The government Indian affairs department, Funai, carried out technical studies of the area but has failed to officially ratify it.
The situation is reported to be very tense. A group of ranchers and their gunmen have surrounded the Indians’ camp and are preventing people from entering or leaving.
In a show of support for the Sombrerito people, the neighboring Guarani of Porto Lindo territory have blockaded the main road and say they will not open it until the authorities guarantee the safety of Sombrerito and allow the Indians to remain on their land.
A Guarani spokesman said today, ‘We won’t give up the fight for our land rights.’
Survival International’s director Stephen Corry said, “The Brazilian authorities’ failure to recognize Guarani land rights has led to shocking violence and one of the highest rates of suicide in the world.
“They must act now to demarcate all Guarani land and bring to justice those responsible for the murder of Dorival.”
Dorival Benites was buried on Monday, outside Sombrerito. His family wanted to bury him on their own land, but were afraid for their lives.
Survival International – www.survival-international.org