Police close 'private militia' firm following Guarani murders

April 8, 2014

A guard from the notorious security company known as Gaspem, during a training session. Brazilian police have closed down the firm, labelled a ‘private militia’ by public prosecutors. Gaspem are accused of carrying out at least eight brutal attacks on Guarani communities, and of killing at least two of their leaders. © Survival International

This page was created in 2014 and may contain language which is now outdated.

Brazilian police have closed down a notorious security firm accused of killing at least two Guarani leaders, and brutally attacking hundreds more.

Gaspem was described as a ‘private militia’ by public prosecutors who had called for the closure last year.

Ranchers reportedly paid Gaspem 30,000 reais (US$ 13,400) each time it evicted Guarani Indians from their lands, which are now occupied by sugar cane and soya plantations, and cattle ranches.

The company’s owner, Aurelino Arce, was arrested in 2012 in connection with the murder of Guarani leader Nísio Gomes.

Gaspem is accused of killing at least two Guarani leaders including Nísio Gomes (center), and of attacking hundreds more. © Survival International

For years, the Guarani have been appealing for the company to be shut down. Their voice has been amplified internationally as part of Survival’s Guarani campaign, and in the media worldwide.

A judge’s decision to force the company to close marks a huge victory for Guarani communities across the central state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

Gaspem was just one of the companies providing ‘security’ services to ranchers. Others remain active, and politicians of Brazil’s powerful anti-Indigenous farming lobby have been encouraging ranchers to evict Indians from their lands.

The Indians of Pyelito Kuê community who recently returned to a small part of their land, forcing out a rancher who had blockaded their houses, were attacked by gunmen on Sunday morning. One woman was injured and many others were forced to flee. This was the third attack on this community in the last 30 days.

The Guarani said, ‘Do we need to decide to defend ourselves more forcefully? Do we need to kill or to die to make people notice, respect and guarantee our rights? We can’t take all this suffering any more.’

Survival is pressurizing the government to map out all the Guarani’s ancestral land and return it to the Indians, as required under the Brazilian constitution and international law.