Sunday, November 20, 2011

Indigenous Guarani Chief Killed in Brazil

November 20, 2011.

Ni'sio Gomes, a Guarani shaman shot dead by 
gunmen, in a photo taken this week.

Masked armed men have burst into a Guarani Indian camp in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul and killed the local chief.

According to the government agency for Indigenous people (FUNAI, 42 heavily armed men attacked the Kaiowa Guarani community in the village of Amambai, near the border with Paraguay, and shot the 59-year-old indigenous chief, Nisio Gomes, in the head, chest, arms, and legs early on Friday morning, AFP reported.

Gomes' body was then driven away. He is believed to have been the main target of the attack.

FUNAI said other indigenous people from the tribe might also have been killed or kidnapped.

“They came to kill our chief,” said one Indian who witnessed the attack and requested anonymity for security reasons.

Most of the community's 60 residents fled the camp and sought refuge in the forest during the attack.

Members of the community say this is not the first time they have been attacked since their return.

Gomes was the leader of a group of Guarani Indians, 60 of whom returned to part of their ancestral land in Mato Grosso do Sul in early November, after being evicted by cattle ranchers.

The tribe has seen virtually all its land stolen in recent decades by farmers and cattle ranchers.

One Guarani Indian said, “We'll stay on the camp. We'll all die here. We will not leave our ancestral land.”

The incident was the latest outbreak of violence linked to land disputes in Brazil, where one percent of the population controls 46 percent of the cultivated land.

The Guarani have been trying to recover a small portion of their original territories but face violent resistance from wealthy ranchers and soya and sugar cane plantation owners.


Comment: The killing of Chief Ni'sio Gomes is a tragedy and indicative of the behavior of rich land barons and their agents (including the post-colonial state) who continue to steal and occupy the ancestral lands of indigenous peoples.

Not nearly enough global attention is paid to the plight of indigenous peoples inside post-colonial states like Brazil. 

The BBC reports that:
The Guarani are Brazil's largest indigenous minority, with around 46,000 members living in seven states.

Many others live in neighbouring Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina.

The group suffers from a severe shortage of land in Brazil, which has worsened as a boom in agriculture has led farmers and ranchers to extend their holdings.

Indigenous activists say farmers in Mato Grosso do Sul frequently use violence and threats to force them off their ancestral territory, and that the local authorities do little to protect them.
My heart goes out to the Guarani.  May their struggle to survive continue despite the severe odds and unrestrained violence they face.

And, may Chief Ni'sio Gomes find peace among the ancestors while the balance is restored.

See Survival's coverage here



Kweli said...

Man, I heard this on BBC. Reminds me of that Native joke:

Postcolonialism, you say? Are they gone yet?

They're still genociding Indigenous peoples.

Ridwan said...

Thanks for your comment Kweli. You made me laugh out loud.

We know there is no post in post-anything huh?

Trust you well brother.