Caught on video - Gunmen terrorize Brazilian Indians

April 15, 2014

New video footage shows gunmen driving past a Guarani community and firing shots at the Indians © Aty Guasu/Survival

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A violent gang of gunmen who have been terrorizing a community of Brazilian Indians since they returned to their ancestral land has been caught on video. The gang is believed to be employed by the rancher occupying the Guarani Indians’ land, which was seized from them in the 1970s, and cleared for ranching.

Last Monday one of the members of the community of Pyelito Kuê managed to film the gunmen driving past their village and firing shots at them in broad daylight.

Watch the video here.

Last month the Guarani of Pyelito Kuê returned to a small part of their ancestral land, forcing out the rancher who had taken over their land and blockaded their houses. But since they reoccupied their land, gunmen have continued to threaten them, surrounding the Indians, firing shots, and preventing medical workers from visiting. In the latest attack, one woman was injured and many others were forced to flee. 

The Brazilian police recently closed down Gaspem, a notorious security firm accused of killing at least two Guarani leaders, and brutally attacking hundreds more. Many similar companies providing ‘security’ services to ranchers remain active, and politicians of Brazil’s powerful anti-Indigenous farming lobby have been encouraging ranchers to evict Indians from their lands.

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.’

Many ranchers hire private security guards to intimidate and evict Guarani communities from their ancestral land. © Survival International

Nixiwaka Yawanawá, a Yawanawá Indian from Brazil, said, ‘It is shocking to see the risks that my brothers the Guarani are facing every day. They have the right to live on their land in peace. We need everyone’s support to stop these ranchers and to pressure the government to finally protect the Guarani’s land.

Thousands of Indians across Brazil have protested against a proposed constitutional amendment that would give Brazil’s Congress – heavily influenced by the anti-Indigenous farming lobby – a say in the demarcation of Indigenous lands. Brazilian NGOs, including Indigenous organizations, published a letter last week calling on the government not to alter the demarcation system and to concentrate on mapping out and protecting Indigenous land as required under the constitution.

Survival International’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘This video gives a brief glimpse of what the Guarani endure month after month – harassment, intimidation, and sometimes murder, just for trying to live in peace on tiny fractions of the ancestral land that was once stolen from them. Is it too much to expect the Brazilian authorities, given the billions they’re spending on the World Cup, to sort this problem out once and for all, rather than let the Indians’ misery continue?’

Note to editors:

- Survival has launched a new campaign, ‘The Dark Side of Brazil’, to highlight the plight of the Guarani and other persecuted tribes in the run-up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup.