Indigenous communities attacked after elections
At least four reports mention aggression, vandalism, and intimidation
Published in 30/10/2018 - 20:47 By Alex Rodrigues - Brasília
After the outcome of Brazil’s presidential elections, at least four attacks were reported in indigenous communities in the states of Mato Grosso do Sul and Pernambuco. The country’s National Indian Foundation (Funai), the Indigenous Missionary Council (Cimi), and other authorities have confirmed the accounts, which include the use of guns, rubber bullets, and the torching of a school and a health care station. No casualties were reported, but some people were injured.
The attacks are said to take place between the early hours last Sunday (Oct. 28) and Monday (29). The most violent case, confirmed by Funai, targeted residents of the Bororó village, one of the several in the Dourados Indigenous Reserve, in Mato Grosso do Sul.
Located just outside the urban center, Dourados is the reserve with the country’s largest indigenous population—13 thousand people across an area of 3 thousand hectares.
Guarani-Kaiowá people in the Bororó village told Cimi missionaries they were attacked in the early hours last Sunday by a group made up of indigenous people from other communities and also non-indigenous. The attackers came near the village in pickup trucks and a tractor. Some of them fired at the residents. In addition to at least four people injured by rubber bullets, two youths were hit by gun shots. One of the victims was shot in the leg, and was assisted at a local hospital and subsequently discharged. Another indigenous man, also hit in the leg, said he was afraid and did not want to receive assistance outside of the village, and still had the bullet lodged in his leg yesterday afternoon, according to a missionary.
The State Secretariat for Justice and Public Security reported that the police opened an inquiry into the case, but said that “the information gathered so far indicate a possible conflict between indigenous people.” However, missionaries asked not to have their names disclosed for security reasons, and described the statement as “hasty.”
“[The secretariat] fails to take into account the complexity of the local situation and the vulnerability of the communities in the area and its surroundings—a situation that forces many Indians to be subject to greater interests,” one of the missionaries declared, noting that many indigenous people work for farm owners in the region. This happens, the missionaries explained, because communities are “confined” between urban and planting areas, which makes it impossible for them to carry out the traditional activities necessary for the preservation of their population growth.
In Pernambuco, a school and a family health care station in an indigenous village were torched in the early hours yesterday. The two public buildings were located in the Bem Querer de Baixo village—a conflict area between indigenous people and non-indigenous squatters in the Pankararus Indigenous Territory, in the municipality of Jatobá.
According to indigenous community members, the fire destroyed documents, equipment, and damaged nearly all of the structure of the two buildings. The medics at the station usually received some 500 visits every month. “Little was spared,” an online note reads, also calling for an investigation and saying that perpetrators should be held accountable. “This moment requires caution and calm. Probes are being conducted, the place was cordoned off by the police, and we will be hearing news shortly.”
In a note, Jatobá city authorities confirmed the buildings were “destroyed nearly a hundred percent, and losses are incalculable.” The text adds that the “criminal act of vandalism” harms the whole community, “which will remain underserved for months, with no medical assistance or school.” Both the civil and military police bodies were called, and police experts inspected the area early in the afternoon.
Also according to Cimi missionaries, indigenous individuals from other communities in Mato Grosso do Sul state reported they were targeted by intimidating acts last weekend. In Caarapó, in the state’s southeast, they said they witnessed pickup trucks surrounding the territory with men flaunting guns and shouting, which led them to call Funai and Cimi. Funai, however, declared it received no report of the incident.
The Caarapó territory claimed by the indigenous has been disputed for years. In 2016, some 300 indigenous people occupied an area of 490 hectares which they said belonged to their predecessors. Days later, armed and hooded men attacked the place and set fire to all of the indigenous people’s belongings. One of the indigenous man died, five were shot, and at least six others were injured.
The second case reported by Cimi is alleged to have taken place in Miranda, also in Mato Grosso do Sul, in the Passarinho village, one of the villages in the Pilad Rebua Indigenous Territory. Funai also said it did not receive any reports on the incident.
Translation: Fabrício Ferreira - Edition: Denise Griesinger / Mariana Branco