Brazil: Guarani leaders murdered, tortured

Another indigenous Guarani leader, Osmair Martins Ximenes, was killed in Brazil last week, the latest in a string of killings related to the theft of the people’s land. Two other members of his community, Kuretê Lopez and Ortiz Lopez, were killed in 2007 by gunmen hired by ranchers, as they attempted to reoccupy ancestral lands. The Guarani of Kurusu Mba community demand that their land rights be recognized as soon as possible. They said “we are growing impatient with the delay; it is slowly draining us of our life, and exposing us to genocide.”

Meanwhile, around twenty Guarani were tortured on Dec. 8th December after they attempted to reoccupy their ancestral land of Mbaraka’y in the municipality of Iguatemi, close to Brazil’s border with Paraguay. These Guarani were expelled from their land in the 1950s, by cattle ranchers. They have since been living in the overcrowded reserves of Sassoró and Porto Lindo.

Security guards hired by ranchers attacked the Guarani close to the ranches which now occupy their land. The residents were beaten and thrown on the top of trucks with their hands and feet tied, and five were shot. Five Guarani were taken to hospital with injuries.

This is the third conflict between indigenous residents and ranchers in the last two months in Mato Grosso do Sul state. At the end of October, the Guarani teachers Rolindo Vera and Genivaldo Vera disappeared during an attack on their community by gunmen near the city of Paranhos. The body of Genivaldo was later found, and Rolindo is still missing.

In 2007 the Brazilian Prosecutor General’s office ordered the government to survey and demarcate all traditional Guarani territories, but the project is bitterly opposed by farmers and cattle ranchers who are supported by the state government, and it has effectively ground to a halt. (Survival International via UDW, Dec. 22)

See our last posts on Brazil and the Guarani.

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  1. Guaraní under siege

    More than six dozen indigenous people from the Guaraní Kaiowá Y'poí people in Brazil have effectively been turned into prisoners on their land. According to the Indigenist Missionary Council (Conselho Indigenista Mission, CIMI), in August a group of gunmen hired by local landowners surrounded the Guaraní, who set up a camp in April on a small portion of their ancestral land. Since the Guaraní—80 men, women and children in all—have been surrounded, and forbidden to leave the camp. This has severely limited their access to food, water, education and health services. Despite several local, national and international pleas for assistance, so far the government has refused to come to the Guaraní's aid, citing "security concerns." (Intercontinental Cry, Survival International, Sept. 15)