Indigenous Guarani occupy FUNAI headquarters
Brazil in focus ⬿

Indigenous Guarani occupy FUNAI headquarters

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John Ahni Schertow
November 5, 2009
 

While Guarani communities in Brazil continue to reclaim their lands and face even more evictions—one leading to the disappearance of two indigenous teachers on Oct. 29—two days ago, more than 50 Guarani People occupied the headquarters of FUNAI, Brazil’s Federal Authority of Indigenous Affairs, in the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul.

The move comes in response to FUNAI’s failure to publish a detailed report about the Gurani’s traditional lands, some 4019 hectares in Rio Grande do Sul.

FUNAI told the Guarani that they would publish the report by September, 2009. However, as the month rolled by, with two Guarani communities in the nearby state of Mato Grosso do Sul being torched and brutally assaulted by gunmen, the Guarani of Mato Preto found themselves empty handed.

The report is a necessary step in the demarcation process, which officially began for the community in 2004.

Ever since the demarcation began, perhaps even farther back, the community has been living in a “roadside camp”, like so many other Guarani who’s lands have been usurped by cattle ranchers, settlers and various others. There are at least 21 roadside camps in Mato Grosso do Sul alone.

As for the Guarani of Mato Preto, they live along edge of a railway line, in plastic bag tents, with little access to food and no security. According to CIMI, the indigenous advocacy branch of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops, CIMI, right now the community’s survival is completely dependent on food assistance programs.

Conditions aside, “the community is small but cohesively aware of Traditionalism and territory” says CIMI. And they’re all working together to have their lands finally demarcated.

Photo Credit: Peter Mulligan

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