07. Brazil: Situation of indigenous peoples in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul

By | 15 September, 2010

Cases examined by the Special Rapporteur (June 2009 – July 2010)

A/HRC/15/37/Add.1, 15 September 2010
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 VII. Brazil: Situation of indigenous peoples in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul

60. In a letter dated 15 March 2010, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, James Anaya, called the attention of the Government of Brazil to information received in relation to the alleged deteriorating human rights situation of indigenous peoples in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. This communication followed the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of indigenous peoples in Brazil (A/HRC/12/24/Add.2), made public in 2009, which made reference to the situation in Mato Grosso do Sul. As of the completion of this report, there is no record of a response from the Government of Brazil.

 Allegations received by the Special Rapporteur and transmitted to the Government on 15 March 2010

61. In his communication of 15 March 2010, the Special Rapporteur transmitted to the Government information received by him about the situation of indigenous peoples in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, and he requested that the Government respond to the allegations contained in the communication in light of relevant international standards.

62. According to the information and allegations received:

a) The community of Laranjeira Ñanderu, Rio Brilhante, is one the many Guarani communities that is waiting for its land to be demarcated under a demarcation agreement between the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) and the Attorney General’s office (Ministério Público Federal).

b) During 9-11 September 2009, the community of Laranjeira Ñanderu was evicted from its lands following the grant of an eviction permit issued to the rancher Mario Cerveira by the Regional Federal Tribunal. Subsequently, unidentified persons set fire to the village, destroying the community members’ houses, property, and animals. The community is currently living in precarious conditions under tarpaulins on the side of a main highway. Community members currently have no proper access to water or food, and have reportedly been threatened by security guards employed by Mr. Cerveira.

c) Further, in the early hours of 18 September 2009, another Guarani Kaiowá community, the Apyka’y, was attacked by ten security guards of the private security firm Gaspem Segurança, who fired shots into their camp, wounding one community member. The gunmen also attacked and injured other indigenous community members with knives and then set fire to their shelters, which were destroyed along with their possessions.

d) The gunmen from the private security firm, Gaspem Segurança, threatened the Apyka’y, stating that if they did not abandon their camp on the roadside, they would die. The community has no materials with which to rebuild their camp and is living in fear of more attacks. The security guards of Gaspem Segurança have denied community members access to water on the ranch and has been implicated in other attacks on Guarani communities where several Guarani leaders have been killed.

e) The Guarani-Kaiowá people of Apyka’y have lived on the side of the road next to a ranch in a makeshift camp for six years. They were forced from their ancestral land a decade ago when it was occupied by ranchers. The most recent attempt by the Apyka’y to return to their traditional land was unsuccessful, and in April 2009 a court order was obtained by the ranchers to formally evict the Apyka’y from their lands. It is believed the rancher who obtained the eviction permit in April 2009 authorized the gunmen to enter the community and stop them from collecting water.

f) In addition, there has been violence against Guarani Indians from Sassoró and Porto Lindo reserves, in Tacurú and Japorã municipalities, respectively. On 8 December 2009, they were attacked by ranchers and security guards as they had attempted to reoccupy their ancestral land of Mbarakay in the municipality of Iguatemi. Five indigenous persons were wounded by bullets; some were beaten and thrown on the top of the trucks with their hands and feet tied, and taken to Sassoró. There, they were beaten again. They were found by a doctor on the side of Sete Placas road. Five Guarani individuals were taken to the hospital in Tacurú.

g) Another conflict between indigenous peoples and ranchers occurred at the end of October 2009 when two Guarani teachers—Rolindo and Genivaldo Vera—disappeared during an attack on their community by gunmen close to Triunfo ranch in Paranhos. The body of Genivaldo was found later and Rolindo is still missing.

Observations of the Special Rapporteur

63. The Special Rapporteur regrets that there is no record of a reply to his communication from the Government of Brazil in the files of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the time of finalization of this report. The Special Rapporteur notes that he had requested a response within 60 days of his communication, which lapsed 15 May 2010.

64. The Special Rapporteur is deeply concerned about the allegations of violence against the Guarani people and the severe impact that the aggressive policy of governments in the past to sell large tracts of traditional lands to non-indigenous farmers has had on the Guarani communities. As stated in his 2009 report on the situation of indigenous peoples in Brazil (A/HRC/12/24/Add.2, para. 46), this past policy perpetuated the Guaraní’s deprivation of their traditional lands and deprived them of adequate means of subsistence. Despite various government initiatives to address the situation of Guarani people in Mato Grosso du Sul, dire conditions among them have persisted, as observed in that report. The Special Rapporteur will continue to monitor closely the situation of the indigenous people in Mato Grosso do Sul, and he would appreciate a response from the Government of Brazil to his 15 March 2010 letter and an update on the situation.