Guarani Indian woman killed by gunman

January 12, 2007

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A gunman shot dead a 70 year old Guarani woman, Kuretê Lopez, on 9 January in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

Kuretê Lopez was part of a group of about 30 Guarani families who, several days earlier, had returned to claim their territory, Kurusu Mba (‘the site of the cross’).

Valdecir Ximenez, a young Guarani, man was shot in the leg and is in hospital.

The Indians’ land has been taken over by a cattle rancher and it is reported that he contracted a private security firm to evict them. Gunmen fired on the Indians whilst forcing them to board trucks. They were then dumped on the edge of a nearby town.

Kureté was a ‘rezador’, or religious leader. Today, a federal court ruled that she could not be buried in Kurusu Mba, where she was born.

This group of Guarani have been living for years on a cramped reservation where hunting and planting crops are very difficult. They were desperate to return to their traditional territory, the site of an ancestral burial ground.

The killing of Kuretê is the latest of several murders of Guarani Indians by gunmen as the Indians attempt to recover lands taken from them by cattle ranchers. Guarani leaders have voiced their concern over government inaction in recognising their land rights, and anger that those who target and murder Guarani have not been held responsible for their crimes.

About 150 Indians and their supporters are demonstrating today in the town of Dourados to highlight the high levels of violence which Indians face in Mato Grosso do Sul.

Anastácio Peralta, a Guarani Kaiowá, said, ‘Tears and blood give us strength to continue our struggle’.