Armed Groups Continue Threatening Indians Evicted from Their Lands in Brazil

In the opinion of Brazil’s National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) adviser in the Brazilian midwest state of Mato Grosso do Sul, Odenir de Oliveira, the presence of the government mission that visited the Guarani-Kaiowá Indians evicted from their lands on December 15 represents an "assurance" of support.

"The participation of various State organs conveyed a degree of certainty that there will be a commitment on the part of the Brazilian government to support them within the limits of the law," he commented.

The mission, made up of the Minister of the Special Secretariat of Human Rights, Paulo Vannuchi, the president of the FUNAI, Mércio Pereira Gomes, and two Federal Police commissioners, visited the municipality of Antônio João, in Mato Grosso do Sul, Tuesday, December 27, to assess the situation following the murder of an Indian, Dorvalino da Rocha.

According to Oliveira, the visit also served to strengthen the willingness of the Federal Police to investigate the crime. "For the Indians, this is fundamental. As long as [the murder] remains unpunished, they fear that another case will occur at any time."

The mission also met with local landowners to try to alleviate the tense atmosphere in the region. The FUNAI adviser judges that the situation is calmer, but the risk of new conflicts still exists.

According to him, the armed groups have not been disbanded, and the Indians have to collect firewood and gather food from gardens they planted on the lands from which they were evicted.

On December 15, after a court decision suspended the demarcation of the Nhande Ru Marangatu lands, the Guarani-Kaiowá Indians were evicted by the Federal Police in Mato Grosso do Sul.

Of the total of around 730 Indians who were forced to abandon the lands, approximately 400 are camped out alongside the road linking the municipalities of Antônio João and Bela Vista.

The eviction occurred peacefully. But while the Indians were removing their belongings from the locale, landowners set fire to various houses, according to what Indian leaders told the press.

Based on these accusations, the Public Defense Ministry opened an investigation to determine whether the police had acted negligently in the case.

Agência Brasil

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