A Guarani Indian teenager, known as Deuci Lopes, has been run over and killed by a truck on a road which passes by her community’s ancestral land, in central-western Brazil.
Guarani witnesses say that the truck was laden with sugar cane from the São Fernando ranch – the same ranch which has occupied the territory of Deuci’s community, forcing them to camp by the side of the road.
The truck driver sped away after the collision; Deuci died at the scene.
Deuci was the mother of a two-year-old baby. She is the sixth community member to be run over and killed on this road since 2009. Last March, a four-year-old boy was killed on the same stretch.
Many Guarani have been targeted and killed as a result of their land campaign.
Guarani families of Apy Ka’y community have been camped on the side of this road for over a decade, waiting for the government to map out their land and return it to them, as it is legally obliged to do.
Guarani spokesman Tonico Benites said, ‘The delay in mapping out the Guarani’s land, and the consequent evictions the Guarani face, are the main causes of these deaths. If the land had been mapped out and the community had been living there, this would not have happened.’
Survival International, the organisation which campaigns for the rights of tribal people, says some community members recently reoccupied a small patch of their ancestral land where they are now living, surrounded by sugar cane, suffering frequent death threats and violent attacks at the hands of the rancher’s gunmen.
A Judge has issued an order to evict the Guarani from this reoccupied land. Damiana, the community’s leader, said, ‘I will not leave. I will die on our ancestral land; I will not run away. I am a woman, I am a fighter, I am not afraid.’