Hired gunmen firing at Guarani in Brazil were filmed recently by the indigenous people who are continuing their struggle to regain stolen territory.
According to Survival International (SI), which posted the video on their website, gunmen have been terrorizing the Guarani of Pyelito Kue since they returned to their ancestral land last month, years after the government had officially recognized their right to move back, forcing the rancher on that land to move out.
On Monday, April 7 they filmed two armed men shooting at them “in broad daylight.”
“This video gives a brief glimpse of what the Guarani endure month after month – harassment, intimidation, and sometimes murder, just for trying to live in peace on tiny fractions of the ancestral land that was once stolen from them,” said SI Director Stephen Corry.
Since 2011 the Guarani of Pyelito Kue had been able to occupy a small parcel of land in the Cambara Ranch in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, near the border with Paraguay. In 2012 the community issued a public letter asserting that they would stay and resist, “up until the final consequences.” That same year a federal judge issued an order allowing the indigenous to return but ranchers did not comply with the order. Then in 2013 federal police were sent in to enforce the order with the added stipulation that refusal at that point would mean a daily fine.
By February of this year, close to 250 Pyelito Kue people moved into a larger piece of the contested land, despite continued attacks and threats from various gunmen hired by ranchers. Federal Police recently closed down Gaspem, a security company used by ranchers to harass indigenous communities, after the company was accused of murder and intimidation.
SI characterized Gaspem as, “a notorious security firm accused of killing at least two Guarani leaders, and brutally attacking hundreds more. Many similar companies providing ‘security’ services to ranchers remain active, and politicians of Brazil’s powerful anti-indigenous farming lobby have been encouraging ranchers to evict Indians from their lands.”
Along with problems involving murderous hired guns, the indigenous people have had to contend with political pressure from pro-rancher/anti-indigenous officials such as Deputy Luis Carlos Heinze. SI gave Heinze its ‘Racist of the Year’ award on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21 for his offensive remarks against indigenous and other people. Heinze and some of his colleagues have been openly calling on ranchers to evict indigenous people from their territories.
In the meantime, SI along with indigenous advocates in Brazil are trying to keep up the pressure on the Brazilian government to defend the Guarani of Pyelito Kue.
“Is it too much to expect the Brazilian authorities, given the billions they’re spending on the World Cup, to sort this problem out once and for all, rather than let the Indians’ misery continue?” Corry added.