Courtesy Aty Guasu/Survival International
Gunmen attacking a Guarani community in Mato Grosso Do Sul in 2014. The attacks subsided briefly before another attack in January.

Indigenous Continue to Face Violence in Reclaiming Territory in Brazil

Rick Kearns

After being shot at and having their homes burned by gunmen hired by ranchers, Guarani villagers in northern Brazil are being harassed even while the United Nations, Survival International (SI) and several Brazilian organizations and officials are trying to help them.

The indigenous Guarani people of Taquara village in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul are attempting to reoccupy land stolen from them; they were attacked on a nightly basis for a week in January according to an SI report.

“The gunmen, employed by local ranchers, arrived in around 10 trucks and have been firing repeatedly at the Guarani village in Mato Grosso do Sul state. They have also reportedly set fire to several houses. The attacks are continuing on a nightly basis,” SI reported on January 24.

“The ranchers are believed to be retaliating for a land reoccupation attempted by the Guarani last week,” the report asserted.

This same village occupation has been the scene of other acts of violence in the last few years as Guarani people, who have Brazilian and international law on their side, have tried to move back to the territory that had been theirs for centuries. While the exact demarcations of the territory remain unfinished, Public Prosecutors have voiced support for the Guarani efforts but this support has not prevented the attacks; at the same time pro-rancher politicians try to weaken the protections.

RELATED: Landowners Kill Indigenous Leader In Brazil And Threaten More Violence

The Taquara Guarani had also just held a memorial ceremony in mid January for Chief Marcos Veron who had been killed defending another part of their ancestral territory in Mato Grosso do Sul in 2003. His killers were never convicted of murder but were given light sentences for other crimes according to press reports. Veron’s killing was also not an isolated incident.

According to the Indigenous Missionary Counsel (known as CIMI in Brazil), a religious based indigenous advocacy group, 390 indigenous people were killed in that state between 2012 and 2016. The Counsel also asserted that there are 500 indigenous suicides connected to the persecution and violence.

RELATED: Indigenous Suicide Rate in Brazil Is Six Times Higher Than National Average

In her End of Mission Statement on March 17, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli Corpuz expressed concern over the attacks against the Takura Guarani and reports of officials not acting to protect the rights of that community.

“Attacks and killings frequently constitute reprisals in contexts where Indigenous Peoples reoccupy ancestral lands following long periods waiting for the completion of demarcation processes. I find it extremely alarming that a series of these attacks, involving shootings and leading to the injury of Indigenous Peoples in the communities of Kurusu Amba, Dourados and Taquara in Mato Grosso Do Sul, followed my visits to these areas,” Tauli Corpuz continued, “Even more alarming is the fact that Indigenous Peoples are reporting that no State authority has yet gone to these areas.”

“In these visits numerous community members in Mato Grosso Do Sul showed me bullet wounds on their bodies, brought me to the places where their family members had been killed, and recounted incidents involving arbitrary arrests and criminalization of their leaders,” she stated.

While international and Brazilian human rights groups are lobbying for justice and more protection of the Guarani, the harassment and fear remains according to SI campaigner Sarah Shenker.

“The Guarani are determined to return to their ancestral land, which they call the ‘land without evil,’ and will do whatever it takes,” Shenker stated in late March. “In the meantime they are suffering appalling conditions in roadside camps and overcrowded reserves, with the Guarani Kaiowa people consequently suffering the highest suicide rate in the world. But they will not give up.”

“We are asking for help from people all around the world,” said Valdelice Veron, daughter of slain Chief Marcos Veron. “We are here on our ancestral land and we will not leave.”

RELATED: Guaranís Dying in Brazil: One Woman’s Fight to Save Them

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Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
(from the article): This same village occupation has been the scene of other acts of violence in the last few years as Guarani people, who have Brazilian and international law on their side, have tried to move back to the territory that had been theirs for centuries. ____________________________________________________________ The Guarani people may have Brazilian and International law on their side, but apparently they don't have the Brazilian military on their side! Why isn't the Brazilian government protecting these people, oh yeah, they probably don't have a lot of money, so . . .

WinterWindTeacher's picture
Submitted by WinterWindTeacher on
I am sorry that this violence is happening to the Guarani people of Brazil. It is not right and there is no excuse for the violence they are being subjected to. The Brazilian military is undoubtedly well trained and armed and had they been there at any point to protect the Guarani people - not one person would have been injured or lay in a grave. It is a tragic senseless reality that has plagued the entire continent since 'lost at sea' was rescued only to start tearing down the dream and paving it over with insanity. It does anger a person how such gross and inhuman monstrous behavior could be let loose on the people like this. Simply, look no further than Calamity Sam, Real Estate Sam, Ranching Sam, and this is all my land Sam. Determined to do with the entire continent what he will. Under Sam has the C.I.A. handyman making friends with would be mercenaries to be trained in Georgia and then let loose in Central and South America with plenty of stash and cash to make the countries struggling to grapple with the centuries of domination and exploitation into one everlasting hell. Evil, and sufficiently so, that had there been any reality to law, and "no one above it" as they so often reiterate - there would be a whole lot of big names from D.C. in the other federal house, the federal penitentiary. It is the house they built and it is rightly and lefty the house most well suited for themselves. I read Rigoberta Menchu's account of the same vicious oppression in Guatemala. The horror and suffering the people have endured endlessly is as shameful today as the arrival of the original monster of 1492. I wish the people over the continent were sufficiently shaken enough to have love and respect for the Native Indigenous people and wherever there was trouble about a million, or more, people from all walks of life would descend upon the situation and let the idiots know, don't mess with the Indigenous people, don't ever mess with these people again. I wish that at the very least the average every day working person would defer and claim no rights to land occupation or ownership. It is a sweet dream that the people would have profound respect for Indigenous people everywhere, to never disturb a grave or holy site, to always stand in alliance with any Native Indigenous people throughout the America's to prevent a second coming of the same slaughtering and thieving that was perpetrated from the beginning. No person can understand the historical debauchery and inhuman scourge without being affected and horrified by it. It is reasonable, rational, and sane to stand firm against any push to continue or to resurrect it. It is wholly selfish and narcissistic to not feel what has and continues to fray and unravel the miracle of creation. The epidemic of diseases and super bugs are the fruition of disdainful conduct and blind minds. Some of the most dangerous and violent places on earth are here in the America's, it is what they have created. It is not lost on life that see's all, the plague of violence is as deadly as any diseased petri dish or test tube incubating death. Finally one could only wish they did have true law and a conscience that respected it. The matter with law is that Moses smashed the tablets containing sacred law because he witnessed repeatedly the people's rejection of any such sacred law and have been unseemly into modern day activity, ever so lustful, greedy and vicious. With the matter of conscience, it must have been thrown away at every turn along the way until perhaps it no longer has any part of the gene pool, which then spells the absolution of an entire race of people. This then fulfills a resolution to the lie, life is truth and a truthful people are at one with it and not a scourge. In the Spirit of Christ he did show that in all the lust for hate and violence, love and truth were not destroyed but whole and holy and continue on throughout the universe and continue to live, are life eternal and everlasting. Those who have played their ambitious exploitative lust death wish upon us don't laugh loud enough, they have with the first and last strike brought a final death and dissolution to themselves. Had the people recognized or kept informed, the world would be empty today, few could have wanted this criminal collusion. To be born, to sense and feel was to feel and to live fully as self with all selves - a great union of one humanity in a garden of diversity, divinity and no shortage of heavenly love. The engineered suffering is exhausting and unbearable. Behind the thin curtain the angel showed me joyousness, love magnificent, alive, beauty, peace and humanity. The Spirit divine transforms the deserts they made into a rich lovely soil of a souls garden to live in truthful light - day into night; a garden with a radiant happiness and intelligence. I have not the courage to endure a crucifixion as Jesus did, but I could not in a million years wish to remain in their heavenly hell. "Suicides have increased 60%." "Every fifteen minutes someone has ended their own life." Their world is undeniably unfit for life. It is not possible to reform a wretched government, but is it possible to find man in monster? If man can be found than monster are shoes and a costume that don't fit anymore.