New study reveals world’s highest suicide rate among Brazilian tribe 5 June 2014

The Guarani suffer extremely high rates of suicide and violence as a result of the theft of their land.
The Guarani suffer extremely high rates of suicide and violence as a result of the theft of their land.
© Survival

A shocking new study has revealed that a Brazilian tribe now suffers the highest suicide rate in the world. In 2013, at least 72 members of the Guarani Kaiowá tribe committed suicide (equivalent to 232 per 100,000), a rate that has nearly tripled over the last two decades. The majority of victims are between 15 and 30 years old.

The news follows violent clashes between police and indigenous protestors on the eve of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

The Guarani, who live in Brazil’s southern agricultural heartlands, have lost most of their land to cattle ranches and sugar-cane plantations, and their leaders are regularly attacked and assassinated. Forced from their land, the Guarani are living in squalid conditions by the roadside or in overcrowded reserves where alcoholism, disease, violence and suicide are rife.

One Guarani man said, “There’s no future, there’s no respect, there are no jobs and there is no land where we can plant and live. They choose to die because actually, they are already dead inside.”

Coca-Cola, one of the World Cup’s main sponsors, is implicated in the landgrabbing scandal which has brought misery and death to the Guarani. Coca-Cola has been sourcing sugar from U.S. food giant Bunge – which in turn is buying sugar cane from land which has been stolen from the Guarani.

In a letter to Coca-Cola, the Guarani pleaded, “We ask Coca-Cola to consider our suffering … We want Coca-Cola to stand beside us and feel our pain and suffering, because the sugar cane is destroying any hope of a future for our children. We ask Coca-Cola to stop buying sugar from Bunge.”

Coca-Cola and FIFA's image has been contrasted with an angry Indian man demanding, 'Let the Guarani live!'
Coca-Cola and FIFA's image has been contrasted with an angry Indian man demanding, 'Let the Guarani live!'
© Survival International

To highlight the deep irony of Coca-Cola and FIFA promoting the World Cup with an image of a happy Indian man with the words “Welcome to the World Cup for Everyone”, Survival has created a spoof ad featuring Nixiwaka, a Yawanawa Indian welcoming the viewer to “The Dark Side of Brazil” and demanding “Let the Guarani live!”.

Amazon Indian Nixiwaka said today, “Coca-Cola is contributing to the destruction and misery of the Guarani Indians because it is buying sugar from a company which sources sugar cane from land stolen from the Guarani. Its picture of a happy Indian does not demonstrate the real situation behind the camera. Let my relatives, the Guarani, live!”

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said, “Expropriating the image of a Brazilian Indian is an audacious move from Coca-Cola given its implication in the Guarani land grabbing scandal. This isn’t the first time tribal images have been used to promote tourism to a country whose indigenous citizens are being systematically persecuted. World Cup visitors need to realize that Brazil’s first peoples are paying the price of this economic boom.”

Notes to editors:
- Download the spoof ad ‘Welcome to the Dark Side of Brazil’
- according to the latest figures released by Brazilian NGO CIMI, the rate of suicide among the Guarani Kaiowá in Mato Grosso do Sul is 232 per 100,000
- see Survival’s website on the ‘Dark Side of Brazil’ for more examples of Brazil’s assault on indigenous rights
- Hundreds of anti-World Cup indigenous demonstrators clashed with police last week, as they protested against several controversial draft bills which would drastically undermine their land rights.
- Download the Guarani’s letters to U.S. food giant Bunge and Coca-Cola (Portuguese, pdf, 1.8MB)

 

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