Illegal invaders use guerrilla tactics to resist removal from Indians’ land

A group of farmers who are illegally occupying indigenous territory in the Brazilian state of Roraima have resorted to guerrilla tactics to resist police attempts to remove them from the land.

During the past week, the farmers have injured a local Indian leader in the community of Barro by throwing a home-made bomb into his home, and burned three bridges leading to the Raposa Serra do Sol indigenous territory. Indians in Barro reported on Thursday that armed men were walking freely around their village.

Brazil’s President Lula signed Raposa Serra do Sol into law in 2005, after a long campaign by Survival. The area is home to the Makuxi, Wapixana, Ingarikó and Taurepang Indians, who have suffered decades of violence and harassment at the hands of farmers and ranchers illegally occupying their land.

Most of the illegal occupants have already left Raposa Serra do Sol and have been resettled and compensated, but a small and powerful group of rice farmers have refused to move and have continued to threaten and intimidate the Indian communities. Their violent actions of the past week are in response to an operation launched by the Brazilian Federal Police, Operation Upatakon 3, to finally remove them from the area.

The Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR) have called for the urgent removal of the farmers from Raposa Serra do Sol.

The Brazilian Indian support organisation CIMI (Indigenist Missionary Council) says, ‘The rice farmers are ignoring the Federal Constitution, ignoring the laws, ignoring the demarcation and ratification of the indigenous territory; they are ignoring every decision that does not interest them, be it by the President of the Republic or the Supreme Federal Tribunal.’