Brazilian Indians fear imminent eviction from ancestral land

February 3, 2012

Guarani man. © João Ripper/Survival

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A community of Guarani Indians in Brazil has spoken of its ‘fear, despair and deep pain’, after being served with an eviction order requiring it to leave its land.

The Guarani of Laranjeira Nanderu community have been living on a small patch of their ancestral land since May 2011.

The Indians had previously spent one and a half years living in makeshift huts on the side of a main road, with little access to clean water and health care. At least three Guarani were run over and killed by passing cars.

The land of Laranjeira Nanderu was stolen from the Indians in the 1960s, to make way for cattle ranches. The Guarani have since suffered violence, intimidation, and various brutal evictions.

Since they returned to a part of their land last May, conditions have improved and the Guarani now have some access to clean water.

If the Indians are forced to leave, they could end up back on the roadside, or in an overcrowded reserve where violence, malnutrition, disease and suicide are rife.

The Guarani said in a statement, ‘We have already been through various decades of misery… any moment we could be evicted from our ancestral territory we are now occupying. We are sad and horrified to receive this news.

‘We want to survive culturally and physically here; we want protection and vital support from the Brazilian authorities to guarantee that future generations of Guarani in this country will not be victims of violence.’

Like many other Guarani communities, the Indians of Laranjeira Nanderu are waiting for the government to fulfill its obligation to map out and protect the land for their exclusive use.

Survival is urging the Brazilian authorities to cancel the eviction order and to recognize Guarani land rights now.