Gunmen attacked a Guarani Kaiowa village in northern Brazil this week, killing one man and wounding six others, including a 12-year old boy.
Activists and Indigenous leaders assert the gunmen were hired by local ranchers who are trying to push the Guarani Kaiowa people out of the Tey’i Jusu community.
Local sources noted that the Indigenous group had just recently moved to the area, which is legally theirs but is also considered part of the Ivu Ranch. Observers speculate that this move may be related to the attack.
The young man killed in the June 14 attack was community health worker Clodiodi Aquileu (said to be in his 20s) and the 12-year-old boy is Josiel Benites who along with the other five wounded people was taken to a nearby hospital.
Guarani Kaiowa villagers filmed the attack; that video shows men in dark uniforms firing at the Indigenous people and yelling racist insults at the villagers.
According to an account by Survival International (SI), an organization championing for tribal peoples around the world, “Gunshots and screams are audible in the footage and fires appear to have been lit in nearby fields.
“The attack is highly likely to be part of escalating attempts by the powerful local agri-business and ranching interests – closely linked to the recently established interim government – to illegally evict the Guarani from their ancestral land and to intimidate them with genocidal violence and racism,” according to the SI press statement.
SI also reported that in the prior week there was an attack by gunmen against a Guarani community known as Pyelito Kue.
Guarani Kaiowa leader Tonico Benites went on a speaking tour in Europe in May in an effort to publicize the need for international support and pressure on the Brazilian government.
“A slow genocide is taking place. There is a war being waged against us. We are scared. They kill our leaders, hide their bodies, intimidate and threaten us,” Benites said.
“We are fighting always for our land. Our culture does not allow violence but the ranchers will kill us rather than give it back. Most of the land was taken in the 1960s and 70s. The ranchers arrived and pushed us out. The land is good quality, with rivers and forest. Now it is very valuable.”
As a result of the continuing violence, SI, along with the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) and other human rights groups are lobbying for protection of the Guarani Kaiowa and other Indigenous Peoples being killed and harassed in various parts of Brazil.
However, the Aty Guasu movement of the Guarani communities in Brazil have issued a call in social media for 30,000 men to prepare for an organized resistance to the violence.
As of press time the Brazilian government has not officially responded to the activists or the Guarani Kaiowa communities.