Brazil: Xavante Indians launch campaign to save river basin

Xavante Indians blockaded a national highway in Mato Grosso state to draw attention to the devastating impact of soya cultivation on the Rio das Mortes river basin. On 25 May, they stopped all traffic in the town of Novo Xavantina from crossing the bridge over the Rio das Mortes, a major river which flows by four Xavante territories.

The demonstration marks the beginning of a national and international campaign  by the Xavante Warã Association to conserve and restore the Rio das Mortes river basin.  The campaign seeks to protect lands and water sources that the Xavante depend on for their physical and spiritual livelihood. According to the Warã  Association, despite some confrontations, much of the local population expressed support for the Xavante's campaign to benefit the region's environment and Xavante culture.  Representatives from the Federal Highway Police supported the effort and respected the Xavante's programme for the day, which included ceremonies such as a log relay-race, singing and dancing, and pre-determined openings for traffic to cross the blockaded bridge.

Click here to download background information on the protest (pdf)