A Tragedy on the Making: Hundreds of Indians in Brazil Wait by the Roadside

Judicial countermeasures have created a serious situation that could become a tragedy involving Indians and land disputes in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, in Brazil. 

In March of last year, a court order demarcated an area of 9,300 hectares and set it aside as a Guarani-Kaiowá reserve. In December the Brazilian Supreme Court overturned that decision, but is scheduled to reexamine the case in February, after a summer recess.

February is far in the distant future for a group of Guarani-Kaiowá Indians who have been camped out on a roadside between the municipalities of Bela Vista and Antônio João, in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul after being evicted from the area more than two weeks ago.

The number of Indians abandoned on the highway after they were forcedly removed by the police has varied (it was once 900; now it is reported that there are still 400 remaining). One thing has not changed however: the Indians are adamant about reclaiming the area which they call Nhande Ru Maangatu.

"There is no way we will accept any decision that separates us from our land," said the Guarani-Kaiowá leader, Isaias Sanches Martins.

Meanwhile, the state representative of Brazil’s National Indian Foundation (Funai), Odenir Oliveira, says the situation on the highway is precarious and it is possible that Indians, especially children, may start dying soon if they do not receive medical assistance.

Oliveira says the Indians know very well that if they leave the area their cause will lose momentum and they may lose whatever chance they have of reclaiming their land.

Agência Brasil

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