Brazil investigates death threats to Guarani activist

April 16, 2012

Guarani Indians. Tonico Benites is fighting for the Guarani’s right to live on their land. © João Ripper/Survival

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The Brazilian authorities are investigating death threats to Guarani anthropologist and activist Tonico Benites.

Benites and his family were stopped by a man armed with two revolvers, on a road close to Brazil’s border with Paraguay. The man stole Benites’s money, said that he was creating ‘chaos’ in the area and warned that if he didn’t stop, he would ‘lose everything’ and would not live.

Benites is studying the land conflict between ranchers and Guarani Indians in Brazil, and alongside other Guarani, he is fighting for the Indians’ right to live on their ancestral land.

Benites told Survival, ‘I belong to the Guarani territory, where I was born, where I grew up, where I have lived and where I will die… I will keep fighting… I am proud to belong to the Guarani people, who fight to guarantee a more dignified and fair future for their children’.

Much of the Guarani’s territory has been stolen from them to make way for ranches and sugarcane plantations, and many communities are now living in overcrowded reserves or roadside camps.

Guarani individuals and communities who fight to return to their land often face threats and violence.

Benites said the Guarani are ‘anxiously waiting for proper action from the government regarding the demarcation of our ancestral lands, and the crimes committed by ranchers against the Indigenous people’.

Survival is lobbying the Brazilian government to map out and protect the land for the Indians, and to guarantee their safety.

Download Survival’s report to the UN which outlines the Guarani’s situation.