would like to call urgent attention to the situation of the
Guarani-Kaiowá nation in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul,
where intense violence have been committed against indigenous
Against Indigenous People in Brazil
hung himself with a piece of rope which he tied to a tree
After she arrived from school, the girl spent that
entire afternoon cleaning under and around the tree.”
Suicide of Anselmo Romeiro, 12 years old, Guarani-Kaiowá,
Amambai, Mato Gross do Sul.
Lazaro’s death, Adelaide grabbed a pen and wrote her own
name on her dead husband’s arm.” Murder of Lázaro Mendonça
Aguero, 19, killed by his wife, Adelaide Ajala Batista, 23, at
Aldeia Pirajuí, Paranhos,Mato Gross do Sul.
we become acquainted with the 2005 data relating to the
various forms of violence committed against indigenous people
and communities in Brazil, we are overtaken by the feeling
that the colonial invasion is not over, despite the fact that
we are in the 21st Century.
This feeling is even more disturbing when we remember
that this violence takes place almost 20 years after the
approval of the 1988 constitution, which changed the relation
between the Brazilian State and society with reference to
indigenous people, and that it takes place in the third year
of a government that promised to defend Indigenous rights.
The information in this report came from a variety of
sources: accounts from victims and from the affected
indigenous communities; complaints from indigenous
organizations (documents, public protests); testimony from
missionaries from the Missionary Indigenous Council (CIMI**),
from government employees who work in the indigenous regions;
and news articles from the local and national press.
The information was sent by CIMI’s regional offices
to its National Secretariat and organized in thematic
spreadsheets arranged according to the type of violence
committed against indigenous groups.
In order to be part of the final, all-encompassing
report, each incident was confirmed by CIMI’s local teams,
which verified each account’s source and veracity.
following analysis is based on the topics and accounts
contained in the spreadsheets. We believe that by drawing
closely from the original and diverse data, one can have an
objective and compelling picture of the various forms of
violence against indigenous people in Brazil.
There were 34 reported deaths of children aged 0 to 12
months, the immediate cause being malnutrition and pneumonia.
The accounts made clear that patients did not have access to
medical care, that there were not enough staff and material
resources available, and that mothers and newborns did not
receive proper care.
The areas with the highest number of deaths were the
Amazon region and the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.
were 44 reported deaths of children between 0 and 3 years old
due to malnutrition - 31 of these cases were in Mato Grosso do
There were also 37 deaths of children and adults who
didn’t have access to medical care – 21 of these were
children of indeterminate age.
31 of the cases took place in the Amazon Region.
were 23 cases of suicide, all of them in the state of Mato
Grosso do Sul. More than half (13 cases) were related to teens
between 12 and 18 years old.
Most noteworthy is the fact that all suicide cases were
among the same people, the Guarani-Kaiowá, and in the same
state, Mato Grosso do Sul.
This reveals the isolation and lack of prospects to
which the Guarani-Kaiowá community has been submitted in that
state - their territories are brutally invaded by farmers, and
the government has not demarcated the land.
more disturbing are the cultural characteristics and age group
in suicide cases, which have become a common occurrence among
young Indigenous people. Another characteristic of the
suicides is that the victims seem to make private decisions to
kill themselves, adding to the pain and sense of powerlessness
that these challenging situations bring to the indigenous
of Indigenous people
2005, there were 33 reported murders of indigenous people.
The majority (23 of them) took place in the state of
Mato Grosso do Sul. Many cases are classified as committed by
unknown assailants, which reinforces the impunity of the
killers and of those who hired them. In some cases, the
murders were committed by gangs that were armed by the farmers
who had invaded indigenous land.
is important to highlight the murder of a leader of the Truká
nation and his teenage son in Pernambuco at the hands of
The Indigenous leader had a prominent role in the
retaking of native land. The circumstances of the double
homicide indicate that the killings were premeditated and
supported by the local authorities.
2005, there were 22 cases of attempted murder, 18 of them in
Mato Grosso do Sul. Some of the cases involve multiple
victims, as many as 5 or even 20 people. Here too the cases
are recorded as committed by unknown assailants, or groups
hired by the farmers who invaded Indigenous land.
It is important to point out that two of
these cases took place during the retaking of land by the
Guarani-Kaiowá e Guarani-Ñandeva communities.
The aggressors were hired by the farmers.
There were 12 death threats, 7 of which were in the
Amazon region, 1 in the state of Bahia, and 4 in Mato Grosso
do Sul, where the largest number of cases took place.
Hired gunmen made recurrent death threats against
entire indigenous communities, their leaders or community
Three of these cases took place in the state of
Roraima, and were related to the struggle for the ratification
of the Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Area. Other cases took
place in communities involved in struggles to retake their
were 17 reported cases of sexual violence, 7 of them in the
state of Mato Grosso do Sul.
It is important to point out that in 12 of the cases,
the victims were between 8 and 16 years old.
we notice that frequently the assaults are committed by
relatives of the victims or by non-indigenous people working
as contractors for government agencies.
It is important to point out the case of a pregnant
15-year old woman who was sexually assaulted while in labor by
the very doctor who was supposed to attend to her.
This doctor had a known history of sexual assault
against pregnant indigenous women and girls, while they were
in the care of government agencies, and yet he was allowed to
continue working in the area.
cases of sexual assault of Guarani and Kaingang children and
teens from the Terra Indígena Rio das Cobras took place in
the state of Paraná, where the BR-277 highway crosses the
Drivers traveling through the BR-277 persuaded young
indigenous girls who sell arts and craft by the side of the
road to become prostitutes.
are numerous charges against farmers, national and foreign
companies for invading Indigenous land, causing deforestation,
removal of timber, taking over the land for cattle raising,
for planting rice and soy, for sewage dumping, appropriation
of traditional knowledge, among other destructive projects.
These complaints come from all regions of the country.
The information gathered by CIMI shows that at least 70
nations have been affected. Another problem is eviction and
displacement of indigenous communities.
of these cases were registered against the Guarani-Kaiowá and
Terena nations, all of them in Mato Grosso do Sul. Even though
the Ministry of Justice has recognized these lands as
belonging to indigenous people, local judges decided in favor
of the farmers, and allowed the police to use force to remove
the communities. In some cases, the military police carried
out violent evictions, even without legal consent.
Distribution of Alcoholic Beverages:
are eight reported cases, seven of them in Mato Grosso do Sul,
that point to store owners being responsible for the
distribution of alcohol beverages, which results in fights and
violence within Indigenous communities.
There are also 2 cases, one involving a drunken 4-year
old child, and the other involving the death of a 15-year old
due to alcoholic coma, both in Mato Grosso do Sul.
Based on the information gathered in this document, we
can conclude that violence against Indigenous people is mainly
who invade indigenous territories, who are generally
farmers and their hired gunmen, companies involved in
timber extraction, hunters and fishermen, organized in
armed groups that invade the land, kill, wound, threaten,
rape and rob indigenous people.
military and federal police who, empowered by the
decisions of local judges, force the displacement of
agents who hold stereotypical and discriminatory views
about indigenous communities and violate their rights.
Brazilian government which fails to guarantee the
indigenous populations the right to their land, to life,
to basic and specialized health care, to defense against
their aggressors, and protection of their material and
the information we gathered, we note one alarming tendency
that is worth pointing out: the violence committed by
indigenous people against members of their own communities.
This is an obvious process of internalizing the
violence surrounding the indigenous communities, and a result
of the disintegration of their communal way of life brought
about by the loss of their traditional land and the total lack
of perspective for survival.
would like to call urgent attention to the situation of the
Guarani-Kaiowá nation in the sate of Mato Grosso do Sul,
where intense violence has been committed against indigenous
we want to highlight that the information and analysis
contained in this brief document should make us reflect on the
immense debt the Brazilian State owes to indigenous nations.
is clear that the indigenous population in Brazil is a long
way from having their constitutional rights assured, and more
importantly, having their basic rights to life and survival,
with autonomy and dignity, guaranteed.
Paulo Maldos is a political advisor for the Missionary
Indigenous Counsel (CIMI).
Acronym in Portuguese