It is not only in the Amazon and remote rural areas that indigenous lands are coming under increased pressure as the new Bolsonaro government extends carte blanche to land-thieves and developers. As CIMI (the Conselho Indigenista Missionário – Indigenous Missionary Council) has denounced, indigenous residents of a Guarani community near Porto Alegre are being threatened by security guards hired by a developer who wants to build a new housing estate on their land. They have appealed for protection to FUNAI, the agency supposed to protect indigenous rights, and to the Public Ministry, an independent arm of the Brazilian judiciary.
On January 11 the Guarani Mbya community at Ponta do Arado in Porto Alegre was attacked and fired on. Hooded attackers fired numerous shots at the huts of the indigenous community and tolld them ‘If you’re not gone by Sunday, you are all dead.”
According to the community, the attack took place around 3:00am, when two men, their faces covered, fired dozens of shots at the huts of the indigenous residents. In attidtion to the shots, which did not injure anyone, they threatened the Guarani, stating that if they failed to leave the area by Sunday, they would be dead.
“Two armed, hooded men arrived, firing over our hut. The children were all frightened and crying. They told us they would wait until Sunday and, if we didn’t leave, they said they would kill eveyone, that no-one would survive. There were a lot of shots” said cacique Timóteo Karai Mirim.
The resettlement of Ponta do Arado is in the Belém Novo community, in the southern part of Porto Alegre, on the banks for the Guaiaba river, in an area of environmental conservation which is also an important archaeological site for the Guarani people. The area has seen considerable property speculation and the indigenous people have already been on the receiving end of threats from security guards of a company which plans to build a large housing estate (condominio) in the locality.
The resettlement (occupation) of Ponta do Arado, Porto Alegre. Video: Sul21, July 2018
If we don’t leave by Sunday, they said that they are going to kill everyone. There was a lot of shooting. We aks the Public Ministry and FUNAI to protect us, because we lieve a long way from the city.
On Wednesay 9 January, the cacique says that someone claiming to be the supervisor of the resettlement arrived here and offered to help the indigenous residents to ‘arrange the removal’ of the communnity to the village of Cantalgo, which is in Vamão the the metropolitan area of Porto Alegre.
Accompanied by two other people this so-called supervisor told the Mbya that they could not remain there and that they would have to leave eventually in any case.
The next night, Thursday, the indigenous people say that six security guards surrounded their huts, shouting loudly. Around 10 o’clock that night they withdrew to the middle of the farm which surrounds the settlement and the community heard a lot of shots. Some hours later, at 3 am, the attack on the community began, with hooded men shining torches at the huts, shooting and shouting threats at the indigenous residents.
“We want the Public Ministry and FUNAI to come to support us, because we are a long way out of the city, in an isolated place. It’s really hard for us, and we need them to protect us,” said cacique Timóteo. “This land here is an old settlement of ours and is really important to us. That’s why we came back here and why we want to live here.”
Translated for LAB by Mike Gatehouse