Brazilian senator condemns dispossession of Guarani Indians

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Senator Marina Silva has given a strong speech in the Brazilian congress following her recent visit to Mato Grosso do Sul state where she attended a large meeting of Guarani Indians.

Silva said that the Guarani faced serious problems, and explained that many are living in road-side camps, hoping that their land rights will be recognised.

She singled out Dourados indigenous reserve where 13, 000 Indians live on just 3, 500 hectares of land. Overcrowding has lead to illness, murder and violence amongst the Indians, and suicide.

The suicide rate of the Guarani is 145 per 100,000 inhabitants, one of the highest in the world.

Silva indicated that the majority of suicides amongst young Indians is a result of a lack of ‘feeling of belonging’, and that a ‘social apartheid’ exists as the Guarani cannot exercise their rights.

‘There’s no place for them in the world of the white people and there’s no place for them in the world of the Indians’, she added.

Many Guarani children do not have access to healthcare and are malnourished.

Silva has said that she will report to President Lula and will request a meeting with the Justice Minister to discuss the situation of the Guarani.

Meanwhile, senator Eduardo Suplicy has suggested that the Minister of Social Development should help to find solutions to the high rate of suicide amongst the indigenous population.

Heavy rains and resultant floods are currently further worsening the livelihoods of the Guarani, especially those on living in road-side camps.

Survival International has opened a fund to support the Guarani, in association with the film ‘Birdwatchers’, which stars Guarani-Kaiowá Indians. All donations will go towards helping them defend their rights, lands and futures.