RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil’s Catholic bishops conference issued an appeal Wednesday for government intervention to defend two Guarani Indian communities under “armed attack.”
Residents of Y’poi and Ita’y Ka’aguyrusu are subject to “brutal intimidation” by armed men who are denying the Guaranis access to water, food, schools and healthcare, the bishops said in a statement.
The beleaguered Indian communities are near Paranhos, a municipality in Mato Grosso do Sul state, near the border with Paraguay.
While the bishops conference did not identify the aggressors, another church body, the Indigenous Missionary Council, said the Guaranis were facing some 80 gunmen in the pay of local landowners.
The landowners want to force the Guaranis off a ranch the Indians occupied in April under the claim that the property was part of their ancestral lands, according to the council.
The bishops conference demanded the Brazilian government effect a “rapid, urgent and effective” solution to the aggression against the Guarani communities.
Such a solution should include a definitive demarcation of indigenous lands and an expulsion of ranchers found to be on Guarani territory, the bishops said in their statement.
Brazil’s roughly 60,000 Guaranis constitute the country’s largest indigenous group and are struggling economically because authorities have delayed the demarcation of Indian lands, effectively concentrating the Guarani population in areas too small to support them, the statement said.
“For years,” the bishops noted, scores of Guarani families have lived in ramshackle camps alongside highways in Mato Grosso do Sul. EFE