Guarani leader assassinated 17 July 2007

Ortiz Lopes, a Guarani Kaiowá Indian, was murdered by a gunman on 8 July. The assassin approached his home, called him outside and shot him at point blank range.

The crime was witnessed by Lopes's widow, Marluce, who heard the gunman say, 'The ranchers sent me to settle a score with you'.  Marluce has reportedly received death threats since the murder.

A group of ranchers are occupying a traditional Guarani territory called Kurusu Mba, which Lopes and several hundred Guarani tried to re-occupy in January this year.

However, just days later the Indians were violently expelled by the ranchers' security guards and the military police. An elderly religious leader,  Kuretê Lopez, was killed  in the eviction:

Lopes was buried on 11 July in Kurusu Mba, next to the grave of Kuretê Lopez.

The community is still landless, and is camped in appalling conditions by the side of a road.

According to CIMI, a Brazilian NGO working with indigenous peoples, Ortiz Lopes is the 20th person in Mato Grosso do Sul state to be assassinated this year.


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