Close

Donate today to keep Global Voices strong!

Watch the video: We Are Global Voices!

We report on 167 countries. We translate in 35 languages. We are Global Voices. Watch the video »

Over 800 of us from all over the world work together to bring you stories that are hard to find by yourself. But we can’t do it alone. Even though most of us are volunteers, we still need your help to support our editors, our technology, outreach and advocacy projects, and our community events.

Donate now »
GlobalVoices in Learn more »

Brazil: Eradicating the Indigenous Guarani Kaiowa

This post is part of our special coverage Indigenous Rights.

For as long as they can remember, the Guarani have been searching – searching for a place revealed to them by their ancestors where people live free from pain and suffering, which they call ‘the land without evil’.

The movie Birdwatchers raised international awareness for the Guarani's situation in 2008

The movie Birdwatchers raised international awareness for the Guarani

But the evil, violence and human rights abuses is what the Guaraní have found in Brazil. They represent one of the most numerous indigenous people in the country (46,000 out of aprox. 734.000), but they continue to be the target of constant attacks and victims of an alarming rash of suicides. The NGO Survival International adds

Today, this manifests itself in a more tragic way: profoundly affected by the loss of almost all their land in the last century, the Guarani suffer a wave of suicide unequalled in South America.
The problems are especially acute in Mato Grosso do Sul where the Guarani once occupied a homeland of forests and plains totaling some 350,000 square kilometers.

This area was inhabited by the Guarani Kaiowá, one of three groups descended from the original Guarani, who inhabited much of the southern Brazilian coast and the forest region of Brazil’s border with Paraguay. They were among the first people to have contact with Europeans on their arrival to South America 500 years ago and, according to the blogger Duda, from blog al-azurd, the Kaiowá lived in peace with the “white man” until the late nineteenth century. By then, however, the situation changed.

foi a [Guerra do Paraguai] que maculou os índios, abrindo as portas para os jesuítas demoníacos com seus sentimentos de culpa e vergonha. ainda assim, os kaiowá se recusaram a participar dessas missões evangelizadoras e preservaram sua profunda espiritualidade.

[...]

a partir de 1880, eles foram incorporados como mão-de-obra no cultivo e extração da erva-mate, explorada em grande intensidade na região. com o tempo, o governo tornou a exploração muito intensa e os territórios indígenas foram invadidos.

[...]

enquanto eram necessários como mão-de-obra, os kaiowá tinham permissão para permanecer em suas aldeias. depois, foram expulsos de suas terras ancestrais engolidas pela carranca dos brancos, que as desmataram e construíram fazendas.

It was the Guerra do Paraguay [Paraguay War] that marred the Indians, opening the door to the Jesuits with their demonic feelings of guilt and shame. Still, the Kaiowa refused to participate in these evangelizing missions and preserved their deep spirituality.
[...]
From 1880, they were incorporated as manpower on the cultivation and extraction of mate explored with great intensity in the region. With time, the government promoted very intense exploitation and the indigenous territories were invaded.
[...]
While they were needed as manpower, the Kaiowa had permission to stay in their villages. Afterwards, they were expelled from their ancestral lands, swallowed by the whites’ frowns who deforested them and built farms.

They have since suffered from the almost total loss of their territory. In a text of 2003 [pt], journalist Carlos Dutra explains the agrarian conflict between the Indians and the farmers

Pelo que se tem observado dos acontecimentos, há mais de 50 anos esse povo vem tentando recuperar uma parte do antigo território que aos poucos foi sendo engolido pela mão branca do latifúndio. Cansados de lutar contra um Direito excessivamente regulador da propriedade privada, liderados pelo velho cacique, em 1997 a comunidade fez a retomada de seu território ancestral. Tão-logo entrou na área, como é de costume de todo povo ligado a terra, ele começam a construir suas casas e iniciar o plantio de suas roças, sem as quais suas famílias não poderiam subsistir. Mas logo o fazendeiro, dito proprietário, recorre ao Pretório, e um juiz e sua lei positiva, rapidamente ordena a expulsão dos indígenas do lugar.

From what has been observed of the events, for over 50 years these people have been trying to recover some of the ancient land that was gradually being swallowed by the white hand of landowners. Tired of fighting an excessive regulating law of private property, led by the old chief, in 1997 the community made their return to their ancestral territory. Soon after entering the area, as is customary to every people on earth, they began to build houses and started planting their crops, without which their families could not survive. But according to the owner, the farmer soon resorts to the Praetorian and to a judge and its positive legislation, quickly ordered the expulsion of the natives of the place.

The old chief mentioned above, Marcos Véron, is a symbol of the indigenous struggle for ancestral lands. He was brutally murdered in January 2003. Veron's killers were freed in 2007. The trial scheduled for May this year ended up being cancelled and postponed again to February 2011.

Egon Heck, a member of the Conselho Missionário Indigenista [Indigenous Missionary Council] (CIMI), in an article reproduced by the blog Global Ethics, presents a panorama of desolation [pt] and describes the persecution of the Guarani Kaiowá as a genocide:

Conforme os relatórios de violência do Cimi (Conselho Indigenista Missionário), nos últimos cinco anos, foram mais de 200 assassinatos e mais de 150 suicídios; mais de 100 crianças morreram de desnutrição; cerca de 200 índios presos e mais de 90% das famílias vivendo da cesta básica e outros benefícios do governo. Isso dá uma pequena dimensão da dramática situação a que está submetido esse povo. Antropólogos e outros cientistas têm qualificado semelhante situação como de etnocídio e genocídio.

According to reports of violence by CIMI (Indigenous Missionary Council), in the last five years, there were more than 200 murders and more than 150 suicides, more than 100 children died of malnutrition, about 200 Indians were arrested and more than 90% of households were living with basic food allowance and other government benefits. This illustrates a small extent of the dramatic situation that these people are subjected to. Anthropologists and other scientists have described a similar situation as genocide and ethnic cleansing

 

"Denouncement: Massacre of Indigenous Guarani Kaiowá in Mato Grosso!", from Blog Fórum Educação (be aware of shocking images)

"Denouncement: Massacre of Indigenous Guarani Kaiowá in Mato Grosso!", from Blog Forum Educação (be aware of shocking images)

More alarming statistics on the living conditions of the Guaraní Kaiowá can be found on the Repórter Brasil website. Emerson Guarani, in his blog, confirms that “violence in Mato Grosso do Sul not only continues but it has also increased” and describes cases of missing Indians who never returned to the village.

The exemption of the judiciary that should investigate and act on the persecution of Kaiowá has been called into question . According to Adital, Frei Tito Information Agency for Latin America,

a urgente conclusão da identificação e demarcação de todas as terras Guarani Kaiowá, do Mato Grosso do Sul; que dentro dos próximos 80 dias, a FUNAI tome providências necessárias para o reconhecimento e permanência da comunidade Kurusu Ambá em suas terras, ressaltando que o grupo de trabalho de identificação da FUNAI está paralisado; que ocorra a punição dos responsáveis pelos assassinatos de todos os Guarani Kaiowá, nos últimos anos, na luta por seus direitos; que aconteça o julgamento imediato, dos acusados do assassinato da liderança Guarani Marcos Verón; que haja o empenho da Polícia Federal para a localização do corpo do professor Olindo Vera, desaparecido há mais de 6 meses e a punição dos assassinos do professor Genivaldo Vera; que se faça o julgamento imediato da Terra Indígena Nhanderu Marangatu, pelo Supremo Tribunal Federal; e, a urgente solução para a dramática situação em que se encontra a comunidade Laranjeira Nhanderu, despejada na beira da BR-163, em setembro de 2009, encontrando-se em situação de extrema insalubridade, violência e miséria.

The question now is the lack of impartiality of the regional judiciary, which has little sensitivity to these native people, systematically favoring the farmers and people linked to agribusiness.
The claims of these leaders are the urgent completion of the identification and demarcation of all Kaiowá Guarani lands of Mato Grosso do Sul; that within the next 80 days, FUNAI take necessary steps for the recognition of the community and stay of the Ambá Kurusu community on their lands, noting that the FUNAI working group responsible for the identification is paralyzed, that the punishment of those responsible for the murders of all the Guarani Kaiowá in recent years on the fight for their rights happens immediately, as well as the trial of the accused for the murder of the Guarai leadership Marcos Veron; there the commitment of the Federal Police to locate the body of Professor Vera Olindo, missing for more than six months and to punish the murderers of Professor Genivaldo Vera; for the trial of the Indigenous Land Nhanderu Marangatu to begin immediately by the Supreme Federal Court, and the urgent solution to the tragic situation in which the community Nhanderu Laranjeira found itself, dumped on the edge of the BR-163, September 2009, finding themselves in extreme poor health, violence and poverty.

However, to the date they are “systematically encouraging farmers and people related to agribusiness” and the voices of those who claim on the human rights of the Guaraní Kaiowá seem not to be sufficiently strong as the economic interests of large corporations such as Shell and Cosan focus on exploration of the sacred land, as NGO Survival International reports, calling to action to help the Guarani.

This post is part of our special coverage Indigenous Rights.

This post was co-authored by Raphael Tsavkko Garcia and Sara Moreira, and proofread by Marta Cooper.

World regions

Countries

Languages