Gunmen set fire to Indian community in Brazil

By agency reporter
June 29, 2015

Gunmen have attacked and set ablaze a Guarani Indian community in south west Brazil.

Initial reports indicated that a one year old baby had burned to death when the gunmen torched the Indians’ houses on 24 June, but this has not subsequently been confirmed.

The Guarani fled the area, and two girls and one boy are reported to be missing.

The Indians of Kurusu Mba community peacefully re-occupied part of their ancestral land on 22 June, having waited many years for it to be returned to them.

They were soon surrounded by gunmen who, according to one Guarani man, “fired shots above our heads.” Survival International, the global movement for the rights of tribal people, say ranchers and farmers who now occupy almost all Guarani land frequently employ armed men to terrorise the Indians.

A Guarani spokesman said they occupied their land because “We can no longer bear living with pesticides, hunger and waiting for the government [to act].”

Many Guarani are being subjected to brutal and intolerable attacks as they wait in vain for the authorities to recognise their land rights. In a video just sent by Guarani to Survival, Tupã Guarani of Pyelito Kue community shows the remains of his house after it was burned down by gunmen. He says his family have lost all their belongings.

Kurusu Mba has suffered many violent attacks in the past. Kurete Lopes, a 70 year old religious leader, was murdered by gunmen in 2007, as was another leader, Ortiz Lopes. Another man, Osvaldo Lopes, was murdered in 2009.

The community is hemmed in by soya plantations. Intensive pesticide spraying pollutes the streams the Indians use for drinking water.

* Survival International http://www.survivalinternational.org/

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