Photo: Gunmen threaten the Guarani community (Aty Guasu -Survival International)
A group of Guarani Indians that two months ago occupied ancestral lands in the southern Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul is being threatened by gunmen working for big landowners, Survival International said Tuesday.
The London-based NGO showed on its Web site a video taken by a member of the Guarani Pyelito Kue community which shows gunmen shooting pistols in the air near the place occupied by the Indians.
The hired guns are “believed to be employed by the rancher occupying the Guarani Indians’ land, which was seized from them in the 1970s and cleared for ranching,” Survival said.
Pyelito Kue members returned to the site in February, forcing out the rancher who expelled them decades before.
“But since they reoccupied their land, gunmen have continued to threaten them, surrounding the Indians, firing shots, and preventing medical workers from visiting. In the latest attack, one woman was injured and many others were forced to flee,” Survival said.
The Guarani said they had reported the aggression to the police and to Brazil’s Funai indigenous affairs agency, but up to now nothing has been done to stop it.
The Guarani are reclaiming an area of 41,571 hectares (102,600 acres), which had already been identified as indigenous land by Funai, but has not yet been demarcated by the authorities.
Police recently ordered a private security company closed down for allegedly killing at least two Guarani leaders in Mato Grosso do Sul, according to Survival.